by Isak Fritz – DA Northern Cape Provincial Spokesperson for Health
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Date: 20 September 2018
The Democratic Alliance (DA) in the Northern Cape is calling on the MEC of Health, Fufe Makatong, to urgently revisit the new De Aar hospital, which is sadly turning into another expensive white elephant for the province.
An oversight inspection conducted last week by myself, Constituency Head Safiyia Stanfley, as well as councillors and representatives of the ratepayers association, proved that the new, state-of-the-art facility, has done little to uplift health care in the central Karoo area. See photos here and here.
The hospital, with all its high-tech security and technology, is largely inoperable due to a dire lack of skills and understaffing. There are only four doctors to keep the entire hospital afloat and not nearly enough nurses to ensure proper services. The Human Resources unit at the provincial department is largely to blame, as they significantly drag out appointment processes and when they do eventually decide to hire someone, the applicant has, more often than not already been employed elsewhere.
On top of this, a lack of maintenance is also affecting operations.
The air conditioning systems are not functioning optimally. The hospital is thus failing to provide adequate conditions, especially for TB patients and neonates. Sewage overflow from staff residences is also causing a stink, while water is constantly being wasted and flows from the hospital out into the streets. This could easily be corrected if the department just renewed the contract of the maintenance man.
It is unacceptable that the new hospital, which only recently opened its doors, is already in such a troubled state.
Instead of prioritizing health care, the ANC rather strives to keep itself in power by employing politically affiliated staff on hospital and clinic boards, while ultimately neglecting the poor, sick people of the province.
The situation at the new De Aar hospital is not an exception to the rule. Similar situations have arisen at the state-of-the-art Dr Harry Surtie Hospital in Upington, and the yet to be opened state-of-the-art mental hospital in Kimberley, amongst others.
The DA will call on Health MEC, Fufe Makatong, to give urgent attention to the De Aar hospital. We also want her to provide reasons for the department’s illogical refusal of maintenance services by a certain contractor, who has been sidelined for no apparent reason.
State healthcare is not about having new, pretty shells of buildings but rather about providing quality care to the most vulnerable of patients. The failing ANC should think twice if it thinks that it can pull the wool over the eyes of the people with its superficial attempt at health care.
Only change under a DA-led government will ensure that health facilities serve as hospitals, and not as glorified clinics.
DA Northern Cape Provincial Spokesperson for Health
083 395 2737
079 226 0991