SOUTH AFRICA | Public Protector to ask Government for urgent intervention in Mamelodi Hospital

Public Protector Adv. Thuli Madonsela met with the management of Mamelodi Regional Hospital and conducted an inspection in loco following media reports about the appalling state of patient care at the hospital.

The Public Protector was informed that staff shortage (including specialist medical staff), lack of space resulting in shortage of beds for patients, shortage of Emergency Medical Services (EMS), non-existent hospital board, high staff turnover and long turnaround time for decision making are among other things have been the biggest challenge since the hospital was elevated from District to a Regional Hospital in 2010.

While conducting an inspection in loco at the different wards, patients raised a variety of complaints including waiting for a long time to get medical attention. Some said that they subjected to sleeping on the floor, benches or wheel chairs as substitute for stretchers sometimes for three nights on end. “I am deeply saddened by the situation as there is no human dignity in the way in which patients are being treated”, said Adv. Madonsela

In its defence, the hospital management said that the community in general had high expectation after the hospital was renovated and upgraded but are now disappointed, angry and frustrated as they cannot be admitted into proper wards. The status quo came as a result of not getting additional capacity in terms of staff and space.

Being a regional hospital, it serves about 1,5 million patients and delivers about 8000 babies per year and also supports local clinics most of which close at 16h00. The staff works under extreme pressure resulting in high turnover. The hospital also faces the challenge of not having a blood bank and depends on Steve Biko Academic Hospital for mothers who need blood transfusion during labour.

Having noted the complaints of the patients, the Public Protector assured them that she will request the Department of Health to attend to problems that can be fixed immediately. Speaking to staff, Adv Madonsela cautioned that the aim of the visit was not cast aspersions on anyone but a fact finding mission which will be followed by a proper assessment. Furthermore investigation into alleged irregular procurement of equipment and alleged failure by the hospital to store medical records will commence.

The Public Protector concluded her visit by assuring all parties that her office will look into management lapses and approach government to provide budget to help expedite the renovation of the old section on the hospital.

Source: Public Protector, South Africa

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