Rats, cockroaches and other horror stories at KZN hospitals – MEC must account

Issued by Edwin Baptie, MPL – DA KZN Spokesperson on Health
15 Apr 2024 in Press Statements

The DA is inundated with complaints regarding a lack of sanitation and patient care at KwaZulu-Natal’s (KZN) government hospitals.

One such complaint relates to what appears to be a rat infestation in the wards of Pietermaritzburg’s notorious Northdale Hospital. Another raises the issue of a major cockroach problem at Greys Hospital, with the insects crawling around wards and onto medical equipment.

Regrettably, the negative reports don’t end there. Patients have also told us that they have to provide their own linen as a result of no clean linen being available. Two recent reports speak of a breakfast consisting of two slices of stale bread with over-sweetened tea.

Patients also claim fear of retribution from nursing staff if they dare to complain to management.

Further complaints include the absence of bells to call on staff, drips secured to stands with bandages, unhygienic ablutions, leaking roofs and neglect of patients who dare to voice their discontent. Shockingly, it is also alleged that staff allow urostomy bags to overflow amid claims that they do not know how to change them.

There is a lack of care and compassion that weaves through these ongoing accounts – a sad reflection on the governance of these institutions.

The outright refusal by KZN Health MEC, Nomagugu Simelane and her management team to allow unannounced oversight inspections at the province’s public health institutions appears to have the sinister motive of keeping a lid on poor practices and conditions.

This while a recent parliamentary reply (view here) to the DA, regarding Northdale’s rat problem, is less than satisfactory.

The question is: What will it take to get the rats out of Northdale, the cockroaches out of Greys and clean up KZNs Public Health services? Definitely not the ANC’s National Health Insurance (NHI).

MEC Simelane – as the custodian of healthcare in KZN – has a duty to account over what is an unacceptable situation at two of KZN’s largest hospitals.

KZN’s people need a caring government – one that gets the basics right and functions in a manner that will stop medical-legal claims relating to alleged negligence rising year on year. In 2016/17 the number of cases in KZN investigated by the Health Ombudsman was 730. This number rocketed to 2 427 in 2020/21 with the total contingent liability an estimated R31 billion.

This is a jarring indicator of a department that lacks sound governance and improved levels of patient care as a first priority.

The DA will continue to expose poor service delivery across all sectors under this ANC-run government. When the people of our province go to the polls on 29 May, they will have the opportunity to rescue KZN and vote for a government that puts them first.