DA names SA's five 'worst' hospitals

It is “patently obvious” that the rights of patients in state hospitals are not being respected and that urgent action is needed, the Democratic Alliance said on Wednesday.

DA MP and health spokesperson Dianne Kohler-Barnard released a damning report on the country’s “five worst hospitals” during a press conference at Parliament—citing a litany of staff shortages, disrepair and filth, and poor health-care provision at the Rob Ferreira hospital in Mpumalanga, Umtata General and Cecilia Makiwane in the Eastern Cape, Natalspruit in Gauteng, and Mahatma Gandhi Hospital in KwaZulu-Natal.

“The 27-million South Africans who depend on the public health service are frequently unable to access an acceptable level of health care,” Kohler-Barnard said.

“At the worst hospitals, patient must spend hours waiting just for a file, bring their own linen, stay in wards infested with vermin and reeking of human waste, and often share beds with other patients.

“Hospital buildings are infested with grime, rubbish and vermin. In these conditions, it is patently obvious that the rights of patients are not being respected and that urgent action is required.”

The DA’s investigation into conditions in the public health-care sector “clearly showed” that health care is deteriorating on a broad front.

By highlighting a few of the worst examples, the DA is demonstrating that the government’s hospitalisation revitalisation plans are failing, and that a thorough review of the effectiveness of existing policies is needed, she said.

It is particularly alarming that the problems faced by the hospitals have been raised repeatedly by hospital staff, politicians, trade unions and journalists over many years.

“While many promises have been made, there is little evidence of their fulfilment,” Kohler-Barnard said.

The DA intends to make a dedicated effort to ensure action is taken and the problems addressed to improve conditions.

“The buck stops with Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang.
It is her job to provide health care to South Africans.”

Kohler-Barnard said at some hospitals 67% of doctors’ posts are vacant, doctors have been forced to operate by torchlight, and nurses are expected to keep intensive-care patients alive by pumping air into their lungs manually during the many power cuts.

Patients’ files are jumbled on the floor, unused beds line most corridors and are abandoned in the grounds along with numerous wheelchairs, paint is peeling on walls, almost all the floor tiles are missing, and cats, rats, mice and cockroach infestations are evident.

The stench of human waste permeates, washing and toilet facilities are filthy, and in some hospitals sewage runs on floors, she said.—Sapa

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