The Eastern Cape Health Department says it has already started implementing the remedial actions in the Deputy Public Protector, advocate Kholeka Gcaleka’s report. The report detailed appalling conditions and maladministration in four hospitals in the Eastern Cape.
The four hospitals visited were the Uitenhage and Livingstone Hospitals, both in the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro, as well as the Mthatha and Nessie Knight Hospitals in the OR Tambo District.
The report painted a grim picture of a collapsing health system in the province, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Staff shortages, lack of medical equipment, a shortage of PPE, vehicles, and poor infrastructure are some of the findings of the Deputy Public Protector.
Workers’ union, Nehawu, says it’s vindicated by the report, but believes the status quo will remain in these health facilities unless management changes.
Nehawu Provincial Secretary, Mlu Ncapayi, says the burden lies with ordinary workers on the ground.
“If you are having the same managers that created the problems at the helm, there’s no way that they can then turn around the situation. That’s why we are very clear as Nehawu that the MEC must implement consequence management. So, is to ensure that those people that have failed over the years are held accountable. Because from where we are situated, we are clear as Nehawu, all these failures of the health system. The burden now is lying on the shoulders of the ordinary workers on the ground,” adds Ncapayi.
In her remedial actions, the provincial Health Department was given 30 days to provide PPE and vehicles to hospitals with a shortage, and to fill all critical posts within 60 days. The department was also instructed to work with the Public Works Department to finish and upgrade all infrastructure projects in these facilities.
Provincial health spokesperson, Sizwe Kupelo, says accommodation and vacancy challenges are being addressed.
“At Nessie Knight, we are finalising the accommodation for nurses and doctors. It’s an investment of over R70 million and we’ve got other phases that are in multiple in that hospital. At Livingstone hospital, there were challenges at the time but those challenges were addressed last year and we are finalizing the appointment processes,” he explains.
Although the department refused to comment on whether it will meet these deadlines, it says it will compile a report which will then be submitted to the Deputy Public Protector.
The report will detail the work done to implement the remedial actions.
Office of the Public Protector on a fact-finding mission in the Eastern Cape: