Patient tells of all-day wait at hospital

2007-12-10 00:00

The shortage of doctors in government hospitals “is a worldwide phenomenon” and not limited to local hospitals, the KZN Health Department has said, in response to a patient’s complaints.

An Edendale man who has had first-hand experience of the situation told The Witness of his 24-hour waiting ordeal.

King Mabaso said he has been visiting Edendale Hospital for his illness since November 14.

On one day he returned home without seeing the doctor. “From 5.30 am I was at the hospital; by 5.40 pm, I had not seen the doctor. I went back home and returned the following day, but it was no better than the other days,” he said.

This time Mabaso could not stand the long wait anymore. “Beside being tired, I could not bear to see seriously ill people on the benches turning and groaning with pain after waiting for hours without getting any medical attention. I approached the nurses and asked to see the supervisor. She referred me to management and in the end I was told there were only two doctors available.”

Mabaso once again left without seeing the doctor.

“I am concerned about the hundreds of people who come from far, ill and weak, but are made to wait or sometimes never get to see the doctor.

“On the two occasions that a doctor saw me, it was 6 pm and I could not get a medical certificate issued to take to my employer because the administration department had closed,” said Mabaso.

The Health Department has acknowledged the problem of a shortage of doctors in its hospitals, but said no plans are in place to improve the current situation.

Responding to questions sent by The Witness regarding the issue, spokesman Leon Mbangwa said the department has been “transparent about the shortage of health workers at our facilities. Edendale Hospital will not be any different.”

He said the situation is not unique to the province. “It is a worldwide phenomenon. Health workers migrate to other places in search of greener pastures.”

Mbangwa said a significant number of patients who bypass their local clinics and go to hospitals contribute to the influx of patients.

Mabaso said he was referred to hospital by a local clinic, after suffering continuous coughing.

“The clinic could not conduct the tests to determine what was wrong with me. I was referred to hospital, but the hospital has not enough doctors. While I am not getting treatment the disease is spreading, it’s hopeless.”

sandilez@witness.co.za

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