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HomeMedico-LegalTembisa defies Health Ombud over findings and recommendations

Tembisa defies Health Ombud over findings and recommendations

The Tembisa Provincial Tertiary Hospital (TPTH) says it will take a damning report by the Health Ombudsman on review to challenge its findings and in the interim will not implement any of its findings. As reported in last week's MedicalBrief issue, Ombudsman Professor Malegapuru Makgoba found that the hospital was negligent in the treatment of patient Shonisani Lethole who died after complaining of being ill-treated and deprived of food for 48 hours.

According to a News24 report, hospital CEO Dr Lekopane Mogaladi said none of the recommendations made by Makgoba would be implemented until the review.

On 25 June 2020, Lethole tweeted Health Minister Zweli Mkhize, informing him of the treatment at the hospital and that he had not eaten for 48 hours. Following Lethole's death on 29 June 2020, Mkhize requested the Ombud to urgently probe the matter.

Makgoba found the hospital provided untruthful or incomplete information to the Ombud. He found that Lethole was not offered meals at TPTH for 100 hours and 54 minutes, among other findings. He also recommended that disciplinary action be taken against 19 staff members, including Mogaladi.

But Mogaladi said: “We are going to appeal the findings of the report because we don't agree with its contents.” One of the main reasons cited by Mogaladi was that TPTH was not given an opportunity to peruse the full report before the findings were made public. Mogaladi denied attempting to gag the release of the report, as alleged by Makgoba.

“Secondly, after the report was completed, it should have been given to the CEO (of the hospital), who will have passed it on to (Health Minister Zweli Mkhize). We took a conscious decision that, because of patients' right to confidentiality, we cannot and will not under any circumstances allow a situation where a patient's confidential information is discussed in public. The Gauteng Health Department indicated that it had no intention of challenging the report.”

 

Khwezi Mabasa of the Justice for Shoni Campaign, has made several demands following the Ombud’s finding, notes News24. They include:

* The hospital CEO and accounting officer be immediately suspended pending a disciplinary inquiry.
* Disciplinary action be instituted against medical staff who failed in their responsibilities for Lethole's care.
* That President Cyril Ramaphosa, Gauteng Premier David Makhura and Gauteng MEC for Health Dr Nomathemba Mokgethi publicly acknowledge the pain and suffering of other families who have had loved ones die at Tembisa Hospital in circumstances that need clarity and where they received substandard care.
* Strengthen the board to improve the management and governance of the hospital.
* Ensure all hospital management and staff follow all COVID-19 and critical care protocols, maintain patient record keeping and ensure families can speak to patients and/or receive daily updates from staff.

“We must fix Tembisa Hospital now so no one else has to suffer losing a loved one and the people of the East Rand can trust their hospital to deliver good healthcare for all,” Mabasa said.

 

More families have come forward detailing how they lost their loved ones at Tembisa Hospital and experienced inhumane treatment from staff members, reports Eyewitness News. The Fix Tembisa Hospital Now campaign has now been established and is demanding justice for the Lethole family and others who still don't have answers on how their loved ones died.

Nicole Ncube’s mother died at Tembisa Hospital last year around the same time as Lethole. “She had been sitting on a wheelchair at the COVID ward. Since arriving at the hospital she was not given food and water and they were not allowed to go to the bathrooms.”

She said her mother also complained about not receiving food.

Eyewitness News reports that another woman's heart-breaking experience at Tembisa Hospital supports the claims of staff negligence. She details how the hospital lost her file twice while she was pregnant with twins. As a result, she couldn’t get access to a doctor urgently when she needed help and lost one of her babies.

The group also called on the president to ensure all hospital management and staff follow all COVID-19 and critical care protocols, maintain patient record keeping, ensure families can speak to patients and/or receive daily updates from staff.

 

The Ombud’s report points to a massive failure in the health care system in the country. The Times reports that this is the view of the South African Medical Association (SAMA), which says it will seek an urgent meeting with health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize and other role players to discuss much-needed reform of health care.

SAMA chairperson Dr Angelique Coetzee said the situation in Tembisa was, sadly, a situation repeated in many other hospitals throughout the country. She said management of Tembisa hospital should be held to account.

Coetzee said the staff-to-patient ratio at the hospital should be investigated. She said adequate support to doctors and nurses should be given to ensure that they are able to perform their duties. The hospital would have been overwhelmed during the pandemic and the necessary support should have been given, Coetzee said.

“We cannot continually be looking at these types of incidents as being isolated. We have reported many times about similar conditions elsewhere and about the need for urgent intervention. Unless this intervention occurs, and rapidly, we fear another case such as this will occur,” Coetzee said.

She said while Lethole was able to use Twitter to alert authorities to his plight, many others do not have access to this technology and will be suffering in silence.

 

Mogaladi, the embattled CEO of Tembisa Hospital, has been served with a notice of precautionary suspension, says a News24 report. The Gauteng Health Department served Mogaladi with the notice on Friday of last week.

Department spokesperson Kwara Kekana said the notice of intention to place Mogaladi on precautionary suspension was served in terms of Chapter 7 of the Senior Management Service Handbook 2003, as a result of the Ombudsman's report.

 

The placing under suspension of the Tembisa Hospital CEO is a Gauteng Health Department ruse to fool the public, says the Young Nurses Indaba Trade Union. According to an IoL report, the union’s Tshepiso Seopa said suspending clinicians and hospital staff would never be enough to fix the rot in the public system that led to “the unfortunate death of Shonisani Lethole at the facility”.

“The health department is infamous for hand-picking scapegoats to throw under the bus while avoiding the hard-hitting issues on the ground such as understaffing and lack of PPEs in hospitals,” said Seopa. “This latest move by the department is a smokescreen to fool people into thinking that something is being done to resolve the issues in the system.”

According to Seopa, Lethole’s matter was escalated to the highest office in the department and “anyone with a brain could have foreseen the disaster waiting to happen at the facility”. “They sat on their hands while doing absolutely nothing to salvage the situation and prevent the tragic loss of life.”

 

Tembisa Hospital needs upgrading, better record keeping. News24 reports that this is according to Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Health, which has called for the upgrading of the Tembisa Hospital.

The committee made an oversight visit to the hospital on Saturday, 30 January, after the release of the Ombud’s report.

During the oversight visit, committee chair Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo said the committee had visited the hospital in 2020 to check its state of readiness for COVID-19. He said the committee was happy with the hospital's preparedness for the pandemic at the time. Dhlomo said the hospital was in need of upgrading, which would serve as a "starting point to resolve problems at the hospital".

The committee also noted poor record keeping at the hospital. It said management and supervision of junior healthcare professionals must be strengthened and gaps needed to be adequately addressed.

A meeting has been scheduled for this week between the committee and Mokgethi, and the issue of Tembisa Hospital and the Ombudsman's report may be raised, Dhlomo said.

 

[link url="https://www.news24.com/news24/southafrica/news/no-food-for-100-hours-tembisa-hospital-ceo-to-take-damning-health-ombudsman-report-on-review-20210128"]Full News24 report (Open access)[/link]

 

[link url="https://www.news24.com/news24/southafrica/news/shonisani-letholes-death-family-call-for-tembisa-hospital-ceos-suspension-following-ombud-report-20210128"]Full News24 report (Open access)[/link]

 

[link url="https://ewn.co.za/2021/01/28/my-mother-was-not-fed-more-families-detail-how-loved-ones-died-at-tembisa-hospital"]Full Eyewitness News report (Open access)[/link]

 

[link url="https://www.timeslive.co.za/news/south-africa/2021-01-29-medical-association-says-lethole-report-must-lead-to-meaningful-change/"]Full report in The Times (Open access)[/link]

 

[link url="https://www.news24.com/news24/southafrica/news/shonisani-letholes-death-gauteng-health-dept-places-hospital-ceo-on-precautionary-suspension-20210130"]Full News24 report (Open access)[/link]

 

[link url="https://www.iol.co.za/news/throwing-ceo-under-the-bus-wont-solve-major-issues-at-tembisa-hospital-says-union-32355ebf-d576-4cba-91fa-84a9c9a53e38"]Full IoL report (Open access)[/link]

 

[link url="https://www.news24.com/news24/southafrica/news/tembisa-hospital-needs-upgrading-better-record-keeping-parliamentary-health-committee-20210201"]Full News24 report (Open access)[/link]

 

 

See also MedicalBrief archives:

 

[link url="https://www.medicalbrief.co.za/archives/health-ombud-censures-ceo-and-staff-over-tembisa-hospital-zoo/"]Severe censure of medical, nursing and support staff at Tembisa 'zoo'[/link]

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