Human Rights Commission wants full investigation into Tembisa Hospital

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The SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) says it has found that while there has been a violation of human rights at the Tembisa Hospital, most of the concerns are out of the hospital’s control. Eyewitness News reports that this was after the commission conducted a site visit at the facility following reports of unbearable conditions. There have been claims of people waiting for hours before admission along with a lack of beds and under-staffing.

The Human Rights Commission’s Buang Jones says the nature of the issues at the Tembisa Hospital, such as patients sleeping on mattresses on the floor and under-staffing, warrant a full investigation. He says from accounts given by hospital management, many of the concerns cannot be dealt with at hospital level as they are not exclusive to this facility. “This will require intervention from senior commissioners to engage with the health ministry at the national level.” Jones says they have requested proof of motivations made by management to the Health Department for assistance with resources.


One of the major problems faced by the management of the Tembisa Provincial Tertiary Hospital is the facility’s struggle to cope with the demand for beds. The SAHRC says other major problems include staff shortages‚ limited working space and a dysfunctional CT scanner.

The Times reports that the commission is investigating if the human rights of patients have not been violated by the problems at the hospital.

Hospital CEO Lekopane Mogaladi told the commission and reporters that with the number of medical staff available‚ the hospital was struggling to cope with the high number of patients.

Mogaladi said the hospital is servicing a larger population than what it was designed for. He said the hospital was built in 1972 when the population of Tembisa was still small. But the population had grown substantially and the hospital was servicing patients from other parts of the province. This was proven‚ Mogaladi added‚ by the fact that Tembisa Hospital was second only to Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto in the number of babies delivered in each year.

Mogaladi told reporters that the spatial issues had become so bad that patients had to sleep on mattresses and management was planning to buy foldable beds to cope with the demand for beds.

“In terms of the health standards‚ there is a minimum space which you must have between patient beds. But in terms of the Constitution… everybody who needs health service has to be provided… We [should be] able to use the foldable beds in the interim. When the patient is discharged‚ we fold the bed and put it aside and are able to clean that space. The mattress is likewise. Once one of the patients on the beds is discharged‚ you move that patient from the mattress to the bed and remove that mattress… It is one unfortunate situation which we are faced with as a result of population increase‚” he said.

Another big issue which has already been escalated to the Gauteng Health Department is the CT scanner. “We’ve got a very old CT scanner which is breaking all the time. When it is broken‚ all the patients have to be sent out and the other hospitals are unable to carry the load‚” Mogaladi said.

According to the report, hospital management said that the health facility was categorised as a tertiary hospital in 2012 but it that it had no regional or district hospital to support it. It thus struggled with the number of patients walking through its doors.

Eyewitness News report
The Times report

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