Pill shortage a problem

2015-05-05 06:00

Once again the Mitchell’s Plain community health (day hospital) system has failed us, or is it UTi Chronic Medicine Dispensary, its service provider? This is not something new to the Mitchell’s Plain community, who suffer in silence, because the seniors are the bulk of the disadvantaged patrons. My only fear is that medication shortage (tablets) could be of paramount importance to the user and plays a pivotal role in their quality of life. I remember my days working for a company where a shortage of any commodity could bring the plant to a shutdown. Compare this with your life.

Last month (February) I was short of a certain tablet, but overlooked it, because I had just enough to last until my next collection. On 24 March I was first in the queue at Westridge Clinic and the same tablet was short again. I was given a signed copy of my script to go to Mitchell’s Plain community health (day hospital) and was told to go directly to the window (dispensing). This I did, with lots of angry glances and murmuring from onlookers (this was expected). I was told by the assistant pharmacist, after giving me a piece of paper, to go stand in the queue and collect my folder. Then I had to go to room 27 and see a doctor. This is easier said than done, if all those angry people who were there since 05:00 in the morning have to give way so that you can be helped. This also means that the seniors have to get up early again and waste their money on taxi fares.

On my last visit to the doctor, I was told that I shouldn’t be drinking a lot of water, yet the doctors before him insisted I drink lots and lots of water to flush my system. This is the result for not consulting the same doctor more than once. Each doctor has his own opinion of diagnosis and you end up with different tablets every cycle of doctor visits.

Every time they (community health) are under the spotlight, they claim they have changed the system. This might be, but who are they changing the system for, the staff or the users? Why don’t they involve effective people of the community, who can positively contri­bute to level the playing fields. We are sick of listening to the broken old record “We have a shortage of staff”. Civil servants and essential services should adopt the same pressures as the local businesses who improvise to ensure smooth running of their business. Work smarter, not harder!

Sithembiso Magubane, provincial spokesperson of district health services and programmes, responds:

We acknowledge that there is always room to improve, and we do value our client’s feedback. However, we need to be cognisant of what service our provincial health department is able to provide within the available resources.

The medicine tenders that were awarded late by the national department in the last part of 2014 have largely resulted in stock shortages. We receive quantities of stock each day, allocate them to facilities and distribute smaller quantities, to ensure that the medicine received is distributed across the department.

The department has specialist pharmacologists that advise on the alternative medicine to be used. The national department has also made provision for importing specific medicine if need be. The medicine availability has improved in the last month, and it is anticipated that it will continue to improve.

The shortage period is still uncertain but we are managing the unfortunate situation on a daily basis. We urge patients to contact their local clinics or Wynand Erasmus on 021 483 8408 and Zaheer Moolla on 021 483 2431 for more information.

With regard to the client’s opinion regarding staff shortages: Unfortunately we can only appoint more staff if there are funded vacant posts.

We also urge our clients to inform the facility manager when they are unhappy with the service. This way the facility manager can address the issue while the client is still there

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