Northdale patients revolt

2010-02-10 00:00

MORE than 50 patients allegedly revolted twice against being made to wait for long hours in queues in the heat to see doctors at Northdale Hospital on Monday. They reportedly blockaded an entrance to the casualty section.

However, the hospital has denied any knowledge of the incidents.

Patients who allegedly witnessed the incidents told The Witness — on condition of anonymity for fear of being victimised as they still have to seek medical help at the hospital — that the patients reacted as they were tired of waiting.

One of the patients, who said he started queuing at 8 am and had not been attended to by the time he left at 8.30 pm, said that at around 3 pm they started getting agitated as the hospital staff attended to patients who had only arrived in the afternoon.

“They [nurses] said that the patients needed urgent medical help, but what was odd was that they were not brought in on stretchers, nor were they on crutches. They were walking and looked fine to us,” he said.

After having had to wait eight hours to be attended by doctors, the man said the other patients ran out of patience and blocked the casualty entrance demanding to be seen by doctors.

The matron on duty, he claimed, was summoned by the nurses and explained that the minimum waiting time to see a doctor was 12 hours.

“At one point a patient collapsed on the bench queue … The doctors attended to her,” he said.

Another patient, who said he also witnessed the incidents, said the matron told them that sometimes patients would wait for five days to see a doctor as the hospital admits a lot of sick people.

After 8 pm, said the sources, the patients revolted again. “That’s when I decided to wait for a further few minutes and I left at about 8.30 pm because it was clear that I was not going to see the doctor after spending an entire day at the hospital,” one said.

Health Department spokesman Chris Maxon said the public relations office at the hospital is not aware of the protest by patients.

However, he said, the MEC for Health, Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo, “has addressed this matter very sharply and even outlined his expectation of what hospitals need to do”, as did the Health Minister, Aaron Motsoaledi,when he met hospital managers from four provinces late last year.

Maxon said Dhlomo announced an initiative he called “look and be like a hospital”.

“The MEC is instilling a culture where hospitals are seen as emergency care services that must address the emergency health needs of the people they serve. He outlined in his address that he would not tolerate hospitals that are not clean and that do not take the needs of the patients as their core business,” said Maxon.

The MEC and the minister are monitoring how hospitals are changing their image, from long queues to cleanliness, he said.

“We urge the public to come forward with information in cases where they feel they are being short-changed.”

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