It is clear that the state of the Eastern Cape healthcare system is a looming human rights crisis.
The deteriorating state of public hospitals in the province is placing the lives of patients at risk.
If the Eastern Cape Provincial Government does not take the necessary steps to address the problems facing Eastern Cape hospitals as a matter of urgency, the Democratic Alliance (DA) will request an investigation by the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) to determine the department’s culpability in violating the rights of patients.
Today, my colleagues and I from the Eastern Cape legislature, Bobby Stevenson MPL and John Cupido MPL, visited the Dora Nginza and Livingstone hospitals.
We wanted to assess first-hand the conditions being faced by patients and staff.
Ahead of our visit, the DA learned that the Eastern Cape Department of Health called an urgent meeting this morning of all senior managers at the Port Elizabeth Hospital Complex.
We believe that this was an attempt to silence employees ahead of the DA’s visit to the complex today.
Doctors at the complex last week took the drastic step of announcing that they would be forced to cut medical services to patients due to chronic staff shortages.
It is not the doctors’ actions that should be of concern to the department, but rather the conditions in which they are being forced to treat patients.
Instead of trying to silence staff, the provincial health department needs to urgently focus on addressing the staff, infrastructure and resource shortages that have brought this hospital and others in the province to a state of collapse.
The conditions at the hospitals we viewed today included:
The DA will be taking the following steps to compel the provincial and national departments of health into action regarding the Eastern Cape healthcare crisis.
The provision of quality basic healthcare services is essential if we are to offer all South Africans the opportunity to live lives that they value.
The DA will be monitoring the conditions at Eastern Cape hospitals closely over the coming weeks.