KZN hospitals no longer critical

Makhosazana Mdlalose, MPP

DA KZN Spokesperson on Health

A KwaZulu-Natal parliamentary oversight visit to two of Durban’s major hospitals, Addington and RK Khan, has revealed that despite ongoing challenges management are working hard to ensure the proper functioning of both facilities.

The visit was conducted on Friday last week by the province’s health portfolio committee.  According to hospital reports, Addington and RK Khan see approximately 150 000 patients each over a three month period.  Despite this, the construction of two new 300-bed hospitals in Durban remains on hold due to a departmental budget crisis.

At Addington, the committee found;

–        A cleaner hospital

–        A fully functional oncology department

–        Improved staff morale

–        Order despite ongoing construction

–        A transport system for patients to be taken to other hospitals while certain services are disrupted during the construction period

–        Improved pharmacy services with a priority window and a controlled queuing system.

While a staff vacancy of 117 remains a concern, a new CEO and matron seem to have made a big difference.  The number of health-related complaints regarding this hospital has also reduced during the past three months.

At RK Khan, the portfolio committee found a hospital management trying hard to ensure the smooth running of the facility.  The committee did however note the empty waiting areas with row upon row of unfilled seats.  We were told by staff that it was ‘because it is Friday afternoon and a payday’.  This seems to be completely at odds with the general perception that all public hospitals are always busy. Other areas of the hospital including the neonatal unit and men’s orthopaedic wards seemed very busy though.  All of the neonatal incubators were in use.

According to a source, the hospital is battling with ongoing supply chain issues.  Other problems cited include a general lack of cleanliness, poor conditions within maternity wards and a high subsequent infant mortality and wards which are understaffed due to excessive amounts of sick leave taken by personnel.  According to the source, many of the lifts at the hospital don’t work.

While there is a noticeable improvement at both hospitals, it is clear that certain areas are under massive strain due to patient numbers and that two new hospitals would make a vast difference.  It is almost ten years since these facilities were first mooted – it is incumbent upon the MEC to ensure that they are fast-tracked.