DA requests urgent probe after leaked video shows dire situation at KZN hospital

Issued by Dr Rishigen Viranna, MPL – DA KZN Spokesperson on Health
11 Jan 2021 in Press Statements

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has called on KwaZulu-Natal Health MEC, Nomagugu Simelane Zulu and her HOD, Dr Sandile Tshabalala, to conduct an urgent investigation into a video currently circulating on social media which shows several patients in deep distress, allegedly at Wentworth Hospital.

The clip shows a patient, short of breath and in extreme anguish, pleading for assistance. It also depicts numerous patients sleeping on the floor or in chairs. No hospital workers, doctors or nurses are seen throughout the video and no assistance is offered, either to the distressed patient or others.

The DA is horrified by this video. While we understand that KZN’s healthcare system is extremely stretched, the conditions and lack of patient care are completely unacceptable, inhumane and possibly unconstitutional. Section 27 of the South African Constitution confirms the right to access proper health care.

The current situation within our province’s healthcare institutions is first and foremost the result of years of mismanagement, further exacerbated by the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic. What we are now seeing is a historical shortages of vital clinical staff through frozen posts combined with healthcare workers who are becoming infected, being placed in quarantine and, sadly, some passing away. This immense strain is now having a huge impact on patient care in facilities, as seen in this video.

The DA has forwarded this video to MEC Simelane-Zulu and Dr Tshabalala and has called for an immediate probe into this incident and for full accountability. The clip has also been shared with KZN’s Health Portfolio Committee – of which the DA is a member – with a call for members to increase their oversight duties into the province’s health facilities in a bid to access their readiness and care.

In the event that the DA does not see urgent intervention by the MEC and her Department, we will be forced to escalate this matter to the KZN Health Ombudsman for investigation.

During the Hard Lockdown, South Africans made many sacrifices so that government could ensure that our public health system was fully prepared. The DA will continue to hold them to account in this regard. We remain committed to ensuring that all patients receive proper, quality and dignified treatment at all health facilities, particularly as we face this major pandemic.