by Dr Isak Fritz MPL – DA Northern Cape Spokesperson of Health
Date: 15 August 2017
Type: Press Statement
The DA is concerned that the poor management of health care services in outlying areas of the Northern Cape, especially Namaqualand, is risking the lives and the wellbeing of people who reside in the rural areas of the province.
State health services in places such as Bergsig and Fraserburg are sub-optimal. They are characterised by a lack of resources and a dire shortage of staff.
The state of care at Williston Hospital is probably the worst. One of the three hospital sisters resigned with 24 hours notice and the other is on sick leave. The remaining sister works from 7am to 5pm in the day and is then on standby every night, while a single nurse works night duty at the hospital. The nurse has to call on the sister in the case of an emergency.
This is dangerous, unsustainable and unacceptable.
It is unfair, on both patients and nurses, to place people’s lives in the hands of overworked staff. Not only does this open the department up to medico-legal claims but it also directly places people’s lives at risk.
Given the above situation, one would expect the department to react with urgency to the situation. This, however, has not been the case.
The acting District Manager of Namaqualand, Mr Daniel Grootboom, and the Area Manager, Sister Maretha Smit, remain unresponsive to the current circumstances. They fail to respond to complaints and they merely shrug their shoulders as if there is nothing that they can do to improve health care under their watch.
It is precisely this lack of responsibility that is hampering health care in the districts from improving.
It’s high time that people who are placed in management positions take ownership of their domain. It’s time that they work hard to recruit and retain staff, that they fight for their share of the provincial budget and that they come up with innovative ideas to beef up health services instead of sitting with their arms crossed and watching them collapse.
The DA has again written to the Health MEC, Lebogang Motlhaping, stating our concerns and asking for an intervention in Namaqualand. If no response is forthcoming we are strongly considering referring the matter to the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) for them to investigate the violation of the basic rights to life and to health care.