Addressing the KwaZulu-Natal legislature’s portfolio committee for health this week, the MEC for Health Peggy Nkonyeni blamed budget constraints for the inadequacies of service provision and the failure to fill vacant nursing posts. The minister was acknowledging what the Department of Health denied earlier this year when this newspaper exposed serious deficiencies. It is now officially clear that public hospitals in this province are facing a severe crisis. Happily, as an article in this newspaper revealed yesterday, there is a more positive element to celebrate. Thembeka Sibisi, a local community worker, wrote of her personal experience not only of the various negative aspects of Edendale Hospital in this city but also of an element of genuine caring, especially in the medical outpatients section. Staff shortages made the familiar long queue inevitable but the service, when given, was efficient and friendly. Here is a personal memory which shows how vital it is for hospital service to be humane as well as professional, even when circumstances are trying.