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01 December 2017

Hospersa has welcomed the report by the Ministerial Task Team into four of KwaZulu-Natal’s (KZN) public hospitals.  The report paints a grim picture of the assessed hospitals and recommends that budget allocations for these hospitals to be reviewed.  The Union has called on the Minister of Health, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, to extend such investigations to other provinces to get report on the full extent of how public health facilities are ill equipped in the delivery of health care services to communities. 

According to reports, the Minister of Health, had set up a ministerial task team in 2016 to investigate four public hospitals in Durban, KZN, namely King Edward VIII Hospital, Addington Hospital, Prince Mshiyeni Memorial Hospital and Mahatma Gandhi Hospital.  It is reported that the ministerial task team found that the four hospitals are in a dire state with critical management positions being occupied by people without the relevant qualification.  The damning report confirmed that there is lack of service delivery, poor quality of health care, unacceptable conditions and incompetent management in these facilities.

“We welcome the outcome of this report as it confirms our views regarding the state of health care service in KZN,” said Hospersa General Secretary Noel Desfontaines.  “Poor management and corruption runs deep in this province’s health department.  We reiterate our call for the KZN Member of the Executive Council (MEC) for Health to resign, as this would be a step in the right direction in addressing issues faced by the ailing public health facilities,” added Desfontaines.

It is reported that the ministerial task team made shocking discoveries at the four hospitals during their inspections.  At King Edward VIII, patients were been referred to other hospitals due to broken equipment.  The roof at the hospital’s theatre complex had leaked repeatedly which has resulted in the ceiling of some of the operating theatres to deteriorate and therefore pose a risk to patients having surgery.  The surgical ward is located on the fifth floor of an ageing building whereby elevators are regularly out of service causing patients to use the staircases.  It is reported that the team was further alarmed by the stench of bird droppings and urine that was apparent at the entrance of this ward which the ministerial task team found to be shocking considering that the building houses patients that have undergone recent surgical procedures.  The male and female wards were overcrowded with little privacy for patients and there were inadequate ablution facilities for the number of patients.

The ministerial task team also found that the human resources manager at Addington Hospital was a lawyer with labour relations skills but lacked interpersonal relations skills and that the finance manager had little experience working in a health environment.  The task team reported that there is a severe need to fill posts like cleaners for the operating theatres to ensure infection control.  At Prince Mshiyeni Hospital, the maternity unit was found to be a dark and depressing area due to lack of maintenance.  At Mahatma Gandhi, they found doctors’ rooms with unchanged linen, dirty crockery, overflowing refuse bins and toilets containing foul-smelling sewage due to water shortage preventing flushing.

“We have a clear mandate from our members to address the various issues related to poor management and corruption, staff shortages and Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) particularly in the public service,” said Desfontaines.  “The issues that came under focus with this report touched on these core problems.  Hospersa will continue to campaign for these burning problems to be addressed,” added Desfontaines.

The task team recommended that the budget allocations for the four hospitals need to be reviewed.  It also recommended that appointment of critical staff without the limitation of professional nurses and medical doctors should be permitted as well as for infrastructure and maintenance issues to be prioritised.

“We will wait with bated breath to see if these recommendations will be implemented by the KZN Health MEC.  To date, he has allowed the delivery public health care in the province to collapse and this is another report confirming these sentiments,” argued Desfontaines.

“We call on the Minister of Health to extend this investigation to other provinces in order to fully understand the deplorable working conditions that our members work in and the poor levels of health care service being delivered to communities as a result,” concluded Desfontaines.



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For interviews please contact Hospersa General Secretary Noel Desfontaines – 083-321-4427.

Hospersa – A Trade Union fighting for Service Workers’ rights in the Public and Private Sector
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