Corpses dragged in sheets

2011-08-25 00:00

THE state of Newcastle Provincial Hospital is appalling — including corpses bumped carelessly up and down the stairs — and it needs immediate attention, says Democratic Alliance member of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) Alf Lees.

Lees said yesterday it is horrific that bodies were being hauled in sheets up and down flights of steps at the hospital because the lifts have been faulty for some two years.

“Critically ill patients are required to walk up and down the stairs to get to and from the operating theatre.

“Despite two years of appeals from patients, staff and myself, there have been no repairs done to the roof to keep the rain and other weather conditions off the lifts.

“Bizarrely, the hospital staff were recently informed that they would be held responsible if any patients were injured while being carried down the stairs after they had died.

“The DA demands that the Minister of Health intervene to ensure that the roof and lifts are repaired immediately,” said Lees in a statement.

He said the universal access to quality healthcare for all is a fundamental right, and that all human beings, deceased or not, should be treated with dignity and respect.

A source at the hospital said last week the two lifts servicing the neo-natal ICU and medical surgical wards were broken. Later the same day three more lifts servicing male and female medical, female surgical, post-natal and labour wards also broke down.

“The management claims that this has been reported to the department, but they don’t show us proof. Who will be held responsible if nurses taking a body down the stairs drop the body and get visible injuries?

“This needs to be sorted out,” said the source.

Provincial Health Department spokesperson Chris Maxon said the department is aware of the problem of the roof and lifts at the hospital and is working on fixing it.

“We are in the process of finalising the awarding of a contract for the job. The roof will be a priority because it is the leaks that cause all the damage. We have been able to identify problems in various hospitals throughout the province and we are now working on fast-tracking the fixing process,” said Maxon.

He said the lifts cannot be fixed in the blink of an eye as the spare parts have to be ordered from overseas.

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