Shock audit’s SOS for hospitals

2013-03-24 10:00

Audit shows 93% of maternity wards aren’t safe for mums, babies.

Most of South Africa’s public maternity wards (93%) do not have functional and essential equipment needed to keep mothers and their newborn ­babies safe.

That’s one of the key and shocking findings of an extensive public healthcare audit that took the temperature of the country’s state-run hospitals, clinics and rehabilitation centres – and found that they’re running a potentially fatal fever.

South Africa has one of the world’s highest maternal mortality rates – 310 deaths per 100?000 live births in 2011.

Auditors have warned that maternal health needs “priority attention”.

Jeanette Hunter, the deputy director-general for primary healthcare at the health department, agreed.

“As much as we had expected some degree of failure when it comes to maternity, we were shocked by the findings of the audit,” Hunter said.

But, she said, the failure rate could be related to the audit’s high compliance standards.

“The audit was very harsh. If we wanted 10 vital standards to be met by a maternity ward and nine were met, that would automatically equal failure.”

The audit was commissioned by Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi in 2011.

A consortium of partners, including the Health Systems Trust and the Medical Research Council of South Africa, audited 3?880 public healthcare facilities.

They examined everything from infrastructure and staffing to staff attitudes.

Some of the other findings were:

»?Only 32 of the facilities audited complied with infection prevention and control;

»?Only two facilities could guarantee patients’ safety;

»?Just 161 facilities were clean enough to meet the audit’s tough standards; and

»?Staff attitudes towards patients were awful – just 25% of staff in clinics were found to embody positive and caring attitudes.

Although the audit report painted a grim picture of the overall quality of public healthcare, there were pockets of excellence.

Gauteng’s facilities come out tops, scoring the highest marks in six priority areas.

Hope Papo, the MEC for health in the province, said: “We are very excited – and cautious – that our facilities have scored high. “Improving the quality of care is a responsibility on which we dare not fail. “The news should encourage all healthcare workers in

Gauteng to aim for excellence in order to regain the confidence of the people we serve.”

SA’s sick public healthcare

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