KZN’s new Health MEC Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu’s call to have all patient records available in an electronic format has made significant rounds in the few weeks since she visited Pietermaritzburg’s notorious Northdale Hospital. The call has merit and will indeed improve the flow at KZN’s health-care facilities where there are patients who start queueing at 4 am yet are not seen by a medical professional by the end of the day due to delays and broken systems.
Before anyone begins to swoon over the MEC’s remarks they should remember that she inherited a department left in chaos by her ANC colleague, Sibongiseni Dhlomo, and that she, together with her party, did nothing to hold him to account.
By now, the MEC would have been briefed on the realities of bringing her plan to fruition. She will no doubt also have been briefed on reasons for the province’s snail’s pace in getting things done. In an effort to fast-track her proposal, the DA suggests a visit to the Western Cape where some 13 million patient records, covering 54 hospitals and around 300 primary health-care facilities and spanning more than 25 years, are already available at the touch of a button. The DA-led Western Cape is the only province in the country to have digitised patient records. And we are willing to share this success story with any MEC who is not too arrogant to visit and learn.
A lot more than digitising patient records lies ahead of KZN’s new Health MEC. The question is: is she up to the challenge?
Dr IMRAN KEEKA, MPL