The Eastern Cape Health Department is investigating a case of alleged negligence at Grey Hospital after a patient died apparently because she was not given medical oxygen. A WhatsApp voice note from the patient asking for help from a friend to talk to health authorities as she was struggling to breathe has gone viral.

The patient’s family has confirmed to SABC News that she later died.

Provincial Head of the Department, Dr. Thobile Mbhengashe says heads will roll.

“I think what is really worrying me is that what is the response of the team to the patient when she was making the call; and I think that is part of the investigation that we need to have. Oxygen is an essential medicine that should and is available at our hospitals. Grey Hospital has oxygen supplies, I need to understand how the patient was not provided sufficiently with oxygen, and I also checked the levels of shortages. They have shown me. They have taken pictures of the cylinders that are available, but it’s something that we’re still going to be investigating.”

During his visit at the George Mukhari Hospital yesterday, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said that although the current supply of oxygen at medical facilities is less than what would be needed during the peak of the pandemic, they are in discussions with the oxygen suppliers to increase production and to divert oxygen from industrial to health use.

In the video below, Minister Zweli Mkhize talks about distribution issues at hospitals: