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Failure by the Northern Cape Health Department to appoint enough staff to fully operationalize hospitals previously touted as state-of-the art facilities, is killing healthcare in the province.
This was confirmed during an oversight inspection at the controversial De Aar district hospital today, where a meagre health workforce drastically impacts on the level of care provided at the facility and in the district.
The De Aar hospital came under the spotlight in 2021, following allegations that patients had been left alone at the facility while personnel members abandoned their stations. At the time, the then HOD committed to establish a task team and undertake an investigation into this matter.
Two years later, not much has changed and staff shortages remain a very serious problem. This is despite Pixley ka Seme having been used as a pilot site for the National Health Insurance (NHI) and having received additional funding over the years to bolster capacity.
A shortage of staff at the facility is echoed by shortages in the district due to vacant funded posts remaining unfilled for months, due to cumbersome Human Resource (HR) management processes by the provincial department.
In addition to staff shortages, the hospital is also experiencing stock-outs of chronic medication, including a range of essential medicines, for three months already. The DA is aware of declining medicine availability across the province due to outstanding accounts not being settled by the financially embattled health department.
There is further a lack of political will to implement practical solutions that have the potential to significantly improve service delivery at the hospital.
The DA again saw how the lack of an adequate water supply, which is only adequate for flushing toilets and showers, continues to affect services. For months, the DA has been asking that the two boreholes availed by the municipality are operationalized by the department, to whom we previously appealed to budget for the required pumps. While we today learnt that funding is available, the department now claims to be awaiting an official letter authorizing the use of the boreholes.
Delays in appointments, supply of medication and the resolution of easily rectifiable problems, such as activation of boreholes, are delaying life-saving health care provision to the people of Emthanjeni.
The DA will raise our concerns regarding health care at De Aar hospital, and throughout Pixley ka Seme, with MEC Lekwene Maruping. We will also interrogate the lengthy HR processes that are smothering health services throughout the province.
Issued by Dr Isak Fritz, MPL - DA Northern Cape Premier Candidate