Makhosazana Mdlalose, MPP
DA KZN Spokesperson on Health
THE Democratic Alliance will submit parliamentary questions to KwaZulu-Natal Health MEC, Sibongiseni Dhlomo, over his department’s maintenance policy for hospitals following last week’s shut-down of five operating theatres and several wards at Addington Hospital due to a lack of air-conditioning.
According to reports, medical services were severely interrupted with a number of surgeries put on hold, while it is alleged that patients needing urgent attention had to be taken to other hospitals in the city. While Addington is now back to normal, the only comment from the department has been to say that hospital is undergoing a major refurbishment and that a new air-conditioning system forms part of the overhaul.
The Democratic Alliance welcomes the renovation of ageing hospital infrastructure but it should not mean that existing infrastructure falls apart from neglect, especially while it is still needed. This is a simple issue of a lack of planning and maintenance. It is also by no means the first time that major disruptions have occurred in provincial hospitals over something as basic as a lack of routine repair. In 2010, six operating theatres at King Edward VIII hospital were shut down – also because of broken air-conditioning. Other problems previously witnessed at King Edward include lifts flooded by water, leaving healthcare workers, patients and visitors exposed to the risk of electrocution. Even after this problem was dealt with, many of the lifts were still out of order. Lifts that no longer worked were also in evidence at Newcastle Provincial Hospital prior to the current renovations at this hospital.
It appears that ongoing maintenance and repair within KwaZulu-Natal hospitals is not a priority. The DA will be requesting detailed information on the department’s maintenance policy for hospitals. The department has a mandate to provide citizens of this province with facilities that function. It is absurd that a lack of basic maintenance should bring any hospital to a virtual stand-still.