An investigation has been launched after a video surfaced of pregnant women sleeping on the cold floor at Rahima Moosa Mother and Child Hospital in Johannesburg, with the DA saying that part of the problem was that state hospitals were being burdened by foreign nationals coming to South Africa to give birth.
According to Gauteng Health MEC Dr Nomathemba Mokgethi, who went to the hospital on Monday, 4 April, the hospital’s CEO, Dr Nozuko Mkabayihas has spent only 182 days at the hospital, with most of her tenure spent working remotely from home.
Ashley Sauls, who is Johannesburg’s member of the mayoral committee for Social Development, posted a video showing pregnant women sleeping on the floor, while others were seen trying to sleep in chairs, reports News24. Some of the women had been there for three days, Sauls said.
The Department of Health says the hospital has noted the complaint and the matter has since been escalated to its quality and assurance unit for investigation.
“The hospital has over the past decade experienced an increased patient load from 10,000 to 16,000 deliveries per year, which is the second highest in the country after Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital. It has a 228 approved-bed occupancy rate of 115% in obstetrics and neonates,” it said.
The department added that the hospital has repurposed 22 beds to accommodate more antenatal patients in the past two years, bringing the total to 56, which is still insufficient as the hospital treats patients from Gauteng as well as other provinces.
“The Rahima Moosa Mother and Child Hospital does not have a policy of turning away patients. It receives and treats patients as they arrive at the facility and refers them where possible. We continue to look at short-term measures to manage the patient inflow, however, the long-term solution is to increase the overall capacity of the healthcare system in the region.”
But the DAʼs Gauteng shadow health MEC Jack Bloom said part of the problem was that state hospitals were footing the medical bills for foreign nationals.
“They are overburdening Gauteng hospitals, as highlighted by the video of pregnant women sleeping on the floor,” he said. “A few years ago, the Gauteng health department claimed it was going to bill foreign embassies, but nothing seems to have come from this.”
He added that the legal position was that pregnant women who were in labour could not be refused access to care as it was an emergency condition.
“While most foreign patients live in South Africa, there are many cases where pregnant women from surrounding countries come to a South African hospital specifically to give birth. The proportion of foreign births at some Gauteng hospitals is more than 25% of total births, so it is a burden on our public health system,” Bloom added.
Speaking to eNCA, he also attributed the conditions at the hospital to the absence of the CEO. Mkabayi was appointed CEO in January 2021, however due to the pandemic, senior management at the hospital were allowed to work from home.
Bloom said, “As the CEO, Dr Mkabayi should be setting an example. I don’t know if any other hospital CEO is given the same arrangement. The MEC for Health told me the CEO was given permission to work from home. This shows us everything that’s wrong with the Gauteng Health Department.”
He added that this was why she wasn’t aware of the pregnant women sleeping on the floors and has denied the allegations of negligence.
Got news at 00:30 that pregnant women at Rahima Moosa hospital are sleeping on the floor for up to 3 days, I went there immediately and sadly found it to be true. We cannot allow this to continue 😠😠😠we must restore the HEART of service pic.twitter.com/bWrwhyqa3w
— Ashley Sauls I (@MMC_Sauls1st) April 1, 2022
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