Horrific death at Helen Joseph hospital highlights need for broad rescue plan

30th July 2021

I am horrified by the ordeal suffered by a Johannesburg mother whose daughter died unattended at the casualty department of the Helen Joseph Hospital earlier this week.

According to Ms Nqobile Dube, she took her 26-year-old critically ill daughter Sichelesile to the hospital on Monday at 1 pm and was told she would be admitted at 9 pm that night. But when she came back on late Tuesday afternoon, she found that she had passed away in her wheelchair at the same spot, with her mouth and eyes wide open.

This terrible story highlights once again the neglect that many patients have experienced at Helen Joseph’s casualty, which is grossly overcrowded with patients who can wait days before being admitted to a ward.

The situation has worsened with the Covid-19 epidemic as well as the extra burden of patients who would have gone to the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Hospital (CMJH) which has been largely closed since the fire there in April this year.

Instead of assisting the Helen Joseph, the Gauteng Health Department has dithered in reopening the safe parts of CMJH and wasted huge amounts of money in building extra beds in the wrong areas without staff and equipment. This includes R500 million spent on the 181-bed Anglo Ashanti Hospital in the Far West Rand that does not even have oxygen for the small number of Covid patients admitted there.

None of this excuses the poor management at Helen Joseph where staff ignored a desperately ill patient for more than a day until she died.

A full investigation is needed into this incident, but what is really required is a complete overhaul of the Gauteng Health Department to ensure that money is spent effectively to ensure adequate staff and equipment at all public hospitals.

The DA calls for a rescue plan that would involve the best brains in the private sector to fix the deep-rooted problem in this dysfunctional Department, otherwise the hospital horrors will continue.

Issued by DA