Medical association intervenes in doctor shortages

2013-01-08 15:15

The South African Medical Association (Sama) has said it will deploy doctors to the George Masebe Hospital in Limpopo where four babies died of treatable diseases amid a staff shortage.

“Our members, both in public and private (healthcare), have volunteered, starting today, with paediatric ward rounds,” said Sama chairperson Phophi Ramathuba.

“We will be taking turns in providing health services until the situation is normalised.”

Sama was working with the Limpopo health department to find solutions to the shortage.

Ramathuba said the infants’ deaths were tragic and showed that there were management problems in public hospitals.

The SABC reported that there was not only a shortage of doctors, but that the hospital’s entire management contingent was on leave at the time of the deaths.

“We acknowledge the fact that people are entitled to take leave over the festive period, (but) we still need answers from the provincial health authorities on why these infants died,” Ramathuba said, adding that changes needed to be made to ensure people regained their trust in the public health system.

Limpopo health MEC Norman Mabasa has called for a commission to investigate the deaths.

“I want to know exactly how and when each child died. As we understand it, two died shortly after they arrived in the casualty unit, and the other two died after being admitted to the wards,” the MEC said, according to Beeld.

The commission was expected to report back to him within a week.

Mabasa promised to take action if hospital personnel were found to have been negligent.

The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union said the hospital’s staff should be held accountable for the infants’ deaths.

The union claimed the hospital was 75% full when the babies died, that there was only one doctor on duty, and that basic medical supplies and stocks had been depleted. It also said three of the hospital’s nine doctors resigned last month.

According to Mabasa, a 288-bed hospital like George Masebe should have 38 doctors, but it had only eight.

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