Staff shortages cripple healthcare at Winburg Hospital

Patricia Kopane MP

DA Leader in the Free State

Last week, I conducted an oversight visit to Winburg Hospital. I found a number of serious problems.

The single biggest challenge is understaffing. This is placing an enormous burden on the existing staff and undermines the hospital’s ability to deliver high-quality medical care. Despite all of this, I found the medical personnel very helpful and eager to conduct their duties.

The problems I encountered at Winburg Hospital are:

  • A vacancy for the appointment of a Hospital Manager since 2011
  • 8 professional medical positions have been frozen
  • Due to staff shortages, this 72 bed capacity medical facility can only utilise 23 beds
  • The maternity ward does not have a dedicated midwife appointed to assist with births
  • The operating theatre has been closed due to staff shortages
  • The hospital’s security is compromised with only one security guard at any given time
  • Personnel absenteeism due to long hours. Some members of staff have developed stress related illnesses

Unfortunately, despite the medical personnel’s best efforts, Winburg Hospital does not function as it is supposed to. This situation results in an unnecessary burden on Bongani Hospital in Welkom, since people go there for medical assistance instead.

The DA has for years been calling on the provincial government to prioritise critical staff shortages. The provincial government has done nothing to address these shortages and the current Health MEC, Bennie Malokoane, is too preoccupied fighting off corruption charges against him. It is for this reason that we have repeatedly called for his suspension.

I will write to the National Minister of Health, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, requesting an urgent intervention to address these staff shortages.

The people of the Free State deserve access to quality medical care. It must be delivered by efficient, qualified and caring medical professionals.