Universities urged to have larger stakes in state hospitals

2015-06-12 15:15
Hospital bed.

Hospital bed. (Shutterstock)

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Johannesburg - Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital is not a dumping ground for the University of the Witwatersrand's medical students, the hospital's resident paediatrician Dr Sanjay Lala has told the institution.

"Our clinical workloads are increasing, our teaching commitments are increasing, and Baragwanath hospital is not a dumping ground for students," Sanjay, a Wits graduate, told the health sciences faculty on Thursday.

The faculty was hosting a discussion about the concerns of students and staff with transformation at the university.

"You cannot teach in an abnormal environment if you don't have enough nurses to care for our children. So you can't foster research when there are basic inequalities."

He wanted the university to take greater control of the hospital and to commit itself to improving its infrastructure and service to its patients, most of whom were poor.

‘Take responsibility’

"I'd like the faculty to commit itself to good governance and professional care in our state institutions because I believe that we cannot transform ourselves without addressing these concerns. Someone has to take responsibility, somebody has to take account for transformation to happen."

Vice Chancellor Adam Habib said the institution was not ignoring the fact that state hospitals such as Bara needed investment and improvements.

"When you are looking at the health sciences [faculty], half of the teaching happens in the hospitals.
The problem is we don't control the hospitals and that is the challenge that has emerged."

He said there was a growing need for institutions such as Wits to take control in the hospitals to ensure that quality teaching and learning continued there, ultimately resulting in better service.

"Because if we don't get control of the hospitals, we can't actually establish the kind of teaching platforms in the hospital system."


It was not an easy conversation to have as there was resistance from the government, he said.

He was currently in talks with Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi, Gauteng Premier David Makhura, Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu and Wits's dean of health sciences Martin Veller about the matter.

"National [government] wants it under them. The province wants it between them. There's a whole big fight happening and then Wits University jumps in and says 'forget the both of you, we want it, we think we can do a better job than you can'.

"So it is not about recognising that we need infrastructure in the hospitals. It is about how we get control of the infrastructure. Let's be blunt, the hospitals are shockingly managed. If they were decently managed, we would have much better services for the same cash. That is the point."

Read more on:    wits  |  johannesburg  |  health

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