MEC must respond to NEHAWU claims that KZN health facilities are ‘doctored’ ahead of oversights

Issued by Edwin Baptie, MPL – DA KZN Spokesperson on Health
06 Oct 2022 in Press Statements

The DA has called for immediate answers from KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) Health MEC, Nomagugu Simelane, following claims by NEHAWU members that medical equipment is moved from one facility to another ahead of oversight inspections in order to present a glowing picture.

The allegation comes as Members of the KZN Legislature today finalize health functionality oversights.

The purpose of the oversights is to identify challenges within the health system that are impacting on staff and patients and approve resolutions to rectify them.

That staff employed within these facilities are now claiming that a true picture is not being presented is extremely worrying and demands an explanation from the MEC.

The DA has long raised its concern that facilities visited as part of this programme are cherry-picked. In spite of this, the latest oversights still show multiple areas of concern, in particular staff shortages which are having a dire effect in multiple areas. These include;

· Long patient queues and over-burdened and fatigued staff, leading to medico-legal claims

· No staff for one of the shifts at the ambulance base at Havilland Clinic in Weenen

· No professional nurse and only one enrolled nurse and nursing assistant at Waterloo Clinic serving approximately 35 000 people

· No NHI doctors at Madeni Clinic which serves more than 10 000 people, with a doctor from the sub-district who only visits weekly

· Nursing training on hold, causing staffing issues and;

· No or very few mental health care facilities or staff in different districts.

Despite these serious findings, this Department continues to deny that there is any form of moratorium in place. The evidence is here and it cannot be denied.

In some cases, problems identified during previous functionality visits remained. Neglecting so-called smaller issues allows them to become bigger issues. This cannot become the norm. Further problems found include;

· Load-shedding surges affecting sensitive electronic equipment such as X-ray machines

· Essential medicine stock-outs and expired medication at some clinics

· Poor access roads to health facilities

· Urban clinics being held in dilapidated municipal buildings without leases

· Ongoing water supply issues in uThukela relating to aged infrastructure, with the situation severe in Ladysmith

· Insufficient ablutions with men and women having to share toilet facilities in some cases

· A vaccine fridge without an internal thermometer and another which is broken

· Issues with the supply of surgical supplies leading to the procurement of sub-standard disposable supplies and rusty surgical equipment and;

· Filing issues with no bulk filers for patient details

General standards of organization and cleanliness are simple indicators that speak to performance levels. What the DA has found during the last two days is clear evidence of why some clinics are avoided and others sought out as a result of the substantial difference in terms of treatment and care.

Without an improvement in oversight methods and procedures – and more effective reporting and intervention – KZN’s health system will never get better. The DA remains committed to ensuring that the people of our province receive the health care they need.