Siseko Community Hall in Gugulethu was where residents came out in droves to complain about service at public health facilities.
It was during an imbizo organised by the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) last Thursday.
The meeting focussed on the problems faced communities in Klipfontein District, which includes much of the Cape Flats.
Chief amongst the complaints was the KTC Day Hospital. Residents accused nursing staff of being rude, amid allegations that patient folders go missing.
The crowd bemoaned the long waiting periods. The Western Cape government has promised to respond to the residents’ concerns.
Samkelo Mvelane, is a medicine courier for his neighbour, an errand which sees him going to the KTC Day Hospital every month.
He alleged that only one help window is ever open, even though the hospital is constantly full.
“We sit there watching the staff laughing and chatting to each other behind those windows or taking tea breaks instead of attending to patients.”
Zithobile Jwane from New Rest informal settlement told the imbizo that he been in pain for weeks on end.
He had visited a mobile clinic and was referred to KTC hospital.
“I went to KTC and they took some blood(samples), and then told me to come back the following week for the results. I wasn’t told what could possibly be wrong with me or given any pain medication. When I went back to the hospital it was full and I was not attended to. I still have pain right now as I am speaking.”
Another KTC resident said his patient folder had disappeared. When he went to the hospital a few months ago, he was told that there was no folder, and that he should ask for a new one to be made.
“No one could tell me what happened to my folder even though I get my medication there every month.”
Pinkie Maphase complained about the Nyanga Community Health Clinic.
“We wait outside in long queues from 5am,” she said. “We get mugged sometimes while waiting for the clinic to open. When staff finally come at 8am, they still don’t open. We have to wait until they have had their tea and are ready to open for us.”
None of this is new. In 2015 GroundUp reported of the struggles of people accessing public healthcare facilities.
TAC’s provincial chairperson, Vuyani Macotha, said that listening to these stories was sad. He pointed out that the problems are countrywide.
“A TAC’s branch in North West Province was dealing with “the breakdown of healthcare facilities”.
Macotha said a survey conducted by the TAC in 2016 showed the same complaints and more. He assured residents that the TAC would keep fighting until the healthcare system is fixed. He encouraged residents to continuously report these incidents to the TAC and in some cases take down the names and even photograph the nursing staff that ill-treat them.
Sithembiso Magubane, Spokesperson for the Provincial Health Department said the concerns raised by the residents would be communicated to the Primary Healthcare Manager for review and that feedback to the community would be provided.
He said the provincial government had a complaints policy implemented at facilities. “The facility manager, together with the complaints officer, investigate the case, provide feedback, and implement the necessary actions,” he added.