The Democratic Alliance (DA) has called on KwaZulu-Natal Health MEC, Nomagugu Simelane Zulu and her HOD, Dr Sandile Tshabalala, to conduct an urgent investigation into a video currently circulating on social media which shows several patients in deep distress, allegedly at Wentworth Hospital.
The clip, which The Witness has seen, shows a patient, short of breath and in extreme anguish, pleading for assistance. It also shows numerous patients lying on the floor and in chairs. No hospital workers, doctors or nurses are seen throughout the video and no assistance is offered, either to the distressed patient or others.
An elderly woman in deep distress appears on the video clip, shouting, "I can't breathe! Please get me out of here. Hello, hello. Please get this [indistinguishable]. I'm going to die like this. This tube here, please give it to me. I've asked everybody to help me... No one wants to help me. nobody. I can' t live like this," she cries.
The man filming it says, “It’s f*****g bullshit, I’m taping this and putting it on social media.”
Dr Rishigen Viranna, DA’s KZN spokesperson on Health, said they are horrified by this video.
“While we understand that KZN’s healthcare system is extremely stretched, the conditions and lack of patient care are completely unacceptable, inhumane and possibly unconstitutional. Section 27 of the South African Constitution confirms the right to access proper health care.”
Viranna said the current situation within KZN’s healthcare institutions is first and foremost the result of years of mismanagement, further exacerbated by the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“What we are now seeing is a historical shortages of vital clinical staff through frozen posts combined with healthcare workers who are becoming infected, being placed in quarantine and, sadly, some passing away. This immense strain is now having a huge impact on patient care in facilities, as seen in this video,” said Viranna.
He said the DA has forwarded this video to MEC Simelane-Zulu and Dr Tshabalala and has called for an immediate probe into this incident and for full accountability. He said the clip has also been shared with KZN’s Health Portfolio Committee.
In the event that the DA does not see urgent intervention by the MEC and her Department, Viranna said they will be forced to escalate this matter to the KZN Health Ombudsman for investigation.