KHC bed shortage untenable

Andrew Louw, MPL

DA Provincial Leader

The Democratic Alliance considers the current situation at Kimberley Hospital Complex (KHC) completely untenable. It is deplorable that due to a shortage of beds, patients are sleeping on cold floors, being sent home with without proper treatment, and even passing away while they wait hours for medical attention.

It is further ludicrous that the department thinks that the mere implementation of the National Health Insurance (NHI) programme will solve all their problems. Not only does it appear that the roll out of the NHI has been postponed until at least 2015 but the pilot site in the Northern Cape, in Pixley Ka Seme district, is also facing significant problems. In fact, this site failed to refurbish a single hospital during the first 12 months of the piloting period, despite overspending its grant funding. What hope then does this give us that the implementation of the NHI in the Northern Cape will actually change anything, least of all increasing the capacity and the quality of care at district level  in order to reduce the number of referrals to KHC?

The Northern Cape Health Department continues to receive the second biggest slice of the provincial budget after education. Based on international expenditure norms, we should be able to see the impact of the increased budget and we should have by now eliminated basic health care problems. But this is not the case. Instead, we are faced with a stagnating and even deteriorating health system.

In other words, we are faced with a problem that is much bigger than a lack of resources. This problem does not lie in the two tier health system, but rather in a lack of accountability, a lack of leadership, especially political leadership, and also deficient financial management. And the NHI doesn’t address these problems!

The DA believes that every resident of South Africa should have access to appropriate, efficient and quality services. We expect the provincial health department to come up with an emergency interim plan to manage the caseload at the KHC without compromising the health of sick patients, who most definitely cannot wait until 2015 and beyond to receive the medical treatment that they desperately require.