DA calls for answers after patient’s cell phone torch allegedly used during surgical procedure

09 Jul 2019 in Press Statements

The Democratic Alliance in KwaZulu-Natal has today written to KZN Health MEC, Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu, after being reliably informed that an RK Khan Hospital patient was allegedly asked for her cell phone torch so that a procedure could be performed on her. This as a result of the hospital light source not working.

The patient, who wishes to remain anonymous, had to have a surgical procedure known as an Episiotomy performed while delivering her baby in order to widen the birth canal. To repair the incision, she claims that she was asked to lend the midwife her cell phone torch to enable her to see what she was doing.

The DA is stunned by this revelation and the question has to be asked – how much lower can standards at KZN’s state hospitals sink? The horror stories coming out of RK Khan and other facilities are never-ending.

The Department’s claim that it is ‘not aware of this incident as a complaint being raised’ and its denial that the incident took place do not hold water – the DA is raising it now and we expect answers. In fact, the reason for a complaint not being lodged through hospital management is because the patient fears victimisation and also because she was fobbed off after laying an earlier complaint over poor service at this facility.

The DA has written to the MEC about this latest matter. Then there is also the shocking case of the late Mr Ebrahim’s maggot infestation. It is clear that the problems at this hospital are wide-spread and the DA expects the MEC to expand her investigations to cover various areas of healthcare delivery.

RK Khan is one of KZN’s busiest facilities with a bed utilisation rate of around 91% while other hospitals range between 40 and 80%. Despite this, oversight inspections by the DA in recent years have revealed no improvement in staffing and equipment shortages, medicine supply issues and infrastructure – this while the then MEC sat on his hands.

With such a busy and understaffed facility it is inevitable that staff will be burnt out and absenteeism will be high, increasing the work load of those who are at work on any given day. Notwithstanding, there is no excuse to not have proper and functional equipment when performing surgical procedures. What next? Will kerosene lamps be used while delivering babies?

KZN Department of Health has been brought down to its knees by ‘deadly Dhlomo’ over the last 10 years and the new MEC has a lot to do. Whether she is up to the task remains to be seen. As KZN’s most effective opposition, the DA will continue to monitor her and her Department’s performance while also performing oversight of this critical Department. The citizens of our province must receive the healthcare that they rightfully deserve.