Jack Bloom MPL

DA Gauteng Health Spokesman

Despite an intense shortage of intensive care beds in Gauteng public hospitals, there are 54 unused ICU beds because of budget constraints and staff shortages.

This shock figure is revealed by Gauteng Health MEC Hope Papo in a written reply to my questions in the Gauteng legislature.

According to Papo, 54 (17%) out of 319 ICU beds are not operational because of “budgetary constraints and shortages of qualified ICU nurses”.

Steve Biko Academic Hospital has the most number of unused ICU beds – 17 out of 60, followed by Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, which has 10 empty beds out of 49 ICU beds.

Other unused ICU beds are as follows:

* Kalafong and Tambo Memorial each have 6 unused ICU beds

* Helen Joseph and Pholosong each have 4 unused beds

* Leratong has 3 unused beds

* Dr George Mukhari and Sebokeng each have 2 unused beds.

All the ICU beds at the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg, Tembisa, Natalspruit and Far East Rand hospitals, however, are operational.

This must be seen in the context of an assessed shortage of 343 ICU beds in Gauteng, which means that we have less than half the ICU beds that we need in this province.

There are also 307 vacant ICU nurse positions in Gauteng hospitals, and 55 vacant positions for ICU doctors.

Doctors are forced to choose between patients as to who will live and who will die because of the acute shortage of ICU beds.

It’s a crisis situation that demands urgent intervention.

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