Officials witness hospital’s reality

2008-09-15 00:00

When top provincial government officials made an unannounced visit to Edendale Hospital yesterday morning they found patients lying on uncovered metal stretchers and others who had been waiting unattended for more than two hours in the outpatient department.

KZN provincial director-general Kwazi Mbanjwa led a contingent of officials on the visit, before they toured the Home Affairs office.

The visits are part of a government initiative to evaluate and monitor the implementation of Batho Pele principles. Mbanjwa said the intention of the visit was to see “if people are receiving the courtesy that they rightfully deserve at public service institutions”.

However, Mbanjwa and his officials were appalled when they saw sickly, elderly people waiting on stretcher beds, some collapsing on to the floor.

“The issue of people sleeping on stretchers with no mattresses or sheets is not acceptable,” said Mbanjwa.

Hospital public relations officer, Samke Mncube, said the mattresses had been stolen. Some patients have to bring their own blankets because the hospital cannot provide them with linen to cover the cold metal beds, she explained.

The visitors also found that the hospital uses an outdated record and filing process, with no computerised system with which to capture patient details. Some patients told the officials that each time they come to the hospital, they have to register anew and start a new file. Some said they have done this more than five times. “This means that the patients’ history is lost and if there was a fire, thousands of files would be destroyed,” said Nonhlanhla Mkhize from the premier’s office’s human rights desk.

Mbanjwa said there is an urgent need to upgrade the process to a computerised system.

Some doctors and staff also made submissions regarding the challenges they are facing. They said they are under-resourced. “We need additional staff and facilities; we are stretched to our limits,” said one of the doctors.

“We cannot say when exactly these challenges will be addressed, but we will compile a report working together with the hospital executive and submit it to the relevant departments.”

The visiting contingent were, however, pleased with the cleanliness of the hospital.

Later when the team visited the Home Affairs Department, they were struck by the long queues.

Discussions revealed this was due to staff shortages and this is a matter Mbanjwa will be taking up with the department.

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