Angry MEC visits ‘flagship’ hospital over equipment breakdown

2012-03-28 11:19

Limpopo’s new health MEC, Dr Norman Mabasa, is visiting the Mankweng Hospital to assess the situation following reports that radiology equipment had broken down, forcing the hospital to turn patients away.

The department’s spokesperson, Joe Maila, said: “The MEC is here and he is examining patients, remember he is a medical doctor. He is very angry as this kind of an inconvenience should not be allowed. He is here to see what to do.”

Mabasa’s visit to the hospital, which is about 30km outside Polokwane along the R71 to Tzaneen, was prompted by members of the Health and Other Services Personnel Trade Union of South Africa (Hospersa) who blew the whistle about the collapsing equipment.

Hospersa’s secretary in Limpopo, Rasimati Chabalala, said “the radiology department has collapsed”. He listed the following problems:
» X-ray machines are malfunctioning and do not produce films;
» Mobile X-ray machines have broken down;
» Scanning machines are not functioning;
» Screening machines are broken; and
» C-arm machines are not functioning properly.

Said Chabalala: “The reason we got so angry and agitated is because many patients are being turned away. The department is neglecting our people. Mankweng is the flagship hospital in the whole province and is the only one with those machines in the whole province. You can imagine what happens if they are broken.”

Of the X-ray machines he said: “They don’t produce films, meaning that doctors have to give you medication without knowing the full extent of the damage to your body.”

He said the mobile X-ray machines should be fixed as a matter of urgency: “They are very important as they are used in the Intensive Care Unit, casualties and neonatal wards. They haven’t functioned since September.”

Maila acknowledged the problems. “It’s the CT scan that had mechanical problems ... we had problems with the films but the order has gone out to fix the machine.”

However, he denied that patients were being sent away. “Those who need serious radiology are being sent to Polokwane, which is an inconvenience to the people and to the hospital itself, which has its own patients to deal with.”

The provincial health department was placed under administration in December. It has also been reported that in some hospitals across the province patients go for days on end without food.

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