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FS health dept to probe hospital supplies

Sapa

The province's embattled health department is due to investigate a hospital after critical medical supplies were found stored in a transit site.

Hundreds of Free State community healthcare workers and health activists marched on the Free State health department headquarters last week. (Delwyn Verasamy, M&G)

An investigation is to be launched at Pelonomi Hospital after much needed medical equipment and consumables were founded locked away in storerooms, the provincial health department said on Tuesday.

“An independent investigation team ... will be set up to speedily assist in investigating what exactly happened,” said Tebogo Oepeng, provincial health spokesperson.

This comes in the wake of the national treasury transferring financial management authority of the Free State health department to the provincial treasury, after it was found that the department had racked up R700-million in debt and was on the verge of collapse. 

About 500 Free State community health workers and health activists marched and toyi-toyied around the provincial health department headquarters last Thursday, in Bloemfontein. They were demanding the “immediate dismissal” of the province’s health MEC, Benny Malakoane, the reinstatement of recently dismissed community healthcare workers and the release of a “clear and comprehensive turn-around plan, with timelines, that details how the Free State health system is to be fixed”.

The medical equipment and consumables were found at one of Pelonomi Hospital’s transit site during a clean-up campaign initiated by Free State Premier Ace Magashule for Mandela Day. He reportedly discovered new heart monitors, uniforms, syringes, and consumables – such as washing powder and toilet paper – in storerooms at the back of the hospital.

South Africans commemorate former president Nelson Mandela’s birthday on July 18 each year with various acts of volunteerism. Mandela died in December last year. 

Pelonomi Hospital, the biggest health care facility in the Free State, has been battling amid medicine and equipment shortages due to a lack of funds.

Oepeng said Malakoane and public works MEC Sam Mashinini met with hospital management and organised labour at the hospital on Monday to discuss details regarding the investigation process.

They agreed that those responsible for the hidden equipment and consumables should take responsibility and face the consequences. 

“This cannot be tolerated, particularly when there have been reported shortages of these items,” said Oepeng.

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