RTI tests caused chaos at hospital

2013-07-11 00:00

SHE had to see it for herself. This is what the Northdale Hospital CEO told the RTI commission of inquiry.

Francois du Preez was explaining why she needed to go to the Harry Gwala stadium in person to observe for herself the proceedings of the recruitment fitness training tests so that she could take appropriate action.

As a registered professional nurse for 30 years, she said she wanted to go to the stadium because of the chaotic situation that ensued at the Northdale Hospital casualty department.

“I wanted to observe for myself so that when I made a decision it was based on something that I had experienced,” said Du Preez.

The commission heard that ambulances were lining up at the hospital on December 28.

Du Preez said even though not all of the ambulances were arriving from the stadium, the scene was chaotic.

“We are a feeder for 22 clinics in our jurisdiction and the fitness test made the situation worse for the casualty department,” said Du Preez.

She also corroborated the information given by the hospital board chairperson Rachel Soobiah, that none of the department officials heeded their call to stop or postpone the event on the grounds that the hospital was not coping.

Du Preez said while she was at the stadium she phoned the Health Department district manager to secure volunteer assistance, as the staff on duty were about to leave for the day. But she received no help as no volunteers were not available on December 28. “I was worried about what was going to happen to the participants if the nurses at the stadium left before the event was over,” she said.

Du Preez said she then phoned the head of paramedics in KwaZulu-Natal, Netcare and Daymed Hospital for volunteers but no one was available because of the time of year. However, the dilemma was solved by the nurses at the stadium, who volunteered to work a longer shift to ensure that medical help was on hand for the recruits.

She will be cross-examined today.

Earlier, senior counsel Ravi Padayachee for the Transport Department tried to use Soobiah’s political background in the ANC Youth League against her, but this was disallowed by the chairperson of the commission, advocate Thandi Norman, as irrelevant.

Padayachee had said politicians who had received bad publicity liked to manipulate certain occasions in order to be seen as “Florence Nightingale”.

Soobiah responded she was only there as the board chairperson to state what she had seen on December 28.

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