Public Protector probe report on Eastern Cape health facilities expected in 60 days

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Deputy Public Protector  advocate Kholeka Gcaleka
Deputy Public Protector advocate Kholeka Gcaleka
Jan Gerber, News24
  • A team from the Public Protector's office, led by Deputy Public Protector Kholeka Gcaleka, is probing the state of healthcare facilities in the Eastern Cape.
  • Affected parties will be given an opportunity to comment on a report on its investigation before the report is finalised.  
  • Gcaleka and her team spent two days inspecting hospitals in the province.

A report on the findings of Deputy Public Protector, advocate Kholeka Gcaleka, after her tour of four public healthcare facilities in the Eastern Cape will be concluded in about 60 days, says the The Office of the Public Protector.

Gcaleka, her team of investigators and chief operations officer Charles Mohlaba went on a two-day visit to the Eastern Cape to investigate reports of crippled healthcare services at Livingstone Hospital and other health facilities in Uitenhage, Mthatha and Qumbu, News24 previously reported.  

According to Public Protector spokesperson Oupa Segalwe, the team was exposed to a "raft of systemic challenges which appeared to obstruct the efficient provision of healthcare services to the public".

He said the report would be furnished to the national and provincial health departments and other stakeholders so the issues can be urgently addressed.

He added that all affected parties would be granted an opportunity to comment on the report before it was finalised.

Following the last leg of her visit, Gcaleka told News24 that Mthatha General Hospital, which functions as a district and regional facility, was under-resourced.

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She said management complained that the provincial health department gave more support to the neighbouring Nelson Mandela Academic Hospital.

Gcaleka said there was leadership instability at the hospital and that many senior positions were vacant.

"A lot of people in senior positions are acting. There are no permanent appointments."

She described how patients, for days, slept on stained linen or on beds without linen because the laundry facility was overwhelmed.

"Their laundry facility has a critical shortage of workers, so they don't return the clean laundry on time. The nurses told me that they believed the unhygienic linen was part of the reasons why they saw a spike in cross-infection amongst nurses. The bedding has fluids. Some beds don't have linen."

Gcaleka also visited Livingstone Hospital where she found that patients were provided with "inadequate" food.

There was only one oxygen port at Uitenhage provincial hospital which was shared by scores of patients.

A state-of-the-art kitchen, built at Livingstone Hospital for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, was last used 10 years ago because no one was hired to work there, she told News24 after her visit. The discovery was one of many which shocked her during a visit of Nelson Mandela Bay municipality health facilities, which she went to investigate on Tuesday.

Gcaleka described the kitchen as wasteful expenditure and blamed the provincial health department for causing "leadership instability".

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