Mahatma Gandhi: Staff shortage critical

George Mari, MPP

Member of the DA Caucus in the KZN Legislature

Staff shortages at Durban’s Mahatma Gandhi hospital are critical, with a parliamentary reply to the DA revealing that the facility is short of some 443 staff according to an approved organisational structure.

The reply indicates that the facility is short of 115 nurses, 71 staff nurses, 28 enrolled nursing auxiliary, 83 Medical, 7 Allied, 9 pharmacy staff, 13 HR staff, 18 finance staff, 76 systems staff and 23 Supply chain management personnel.

This despite numerous horror stories about sub-standard care at the hospital, in particular within the maternal health sector.

The response, by KZN Health MEC, Sibongiseni Dhlomo also indicates that there are 63 posts vacant for the current financial year with a number of vacancies which are frozen.  These include three vacancies for medical officers within the obstetrics and gynaecology unit and four medical specialists within eye services.  Other posts that remain frozen include a medical officer for internal medicine, a human resources officer and an Occupational Therapist.  A post for a Systems Manager has been vacant since 2009.

There can be no excuse for such excessive staff shortages, particularly when Mahatma Gandhi is one of the KZN hospitals red-flagged for a high number of medical negligence lawsuits.

It is shocking that a hospital should be run in this manner.  Not only is it unfair on the staff themselves, who must carry such a burden, it also has a severe impact on the level of care offered to patients.

The MEC needs to intervene urgently.  He must demand answers from the hospital board as to how this has been allowed to happen.  Above all, he must ensure that adequate hospital staff are appointed without delay.