Gauteng hospitals hit by linen shortages

Jack Bloom MPL

DA Gauteng Health Spokesman

Gauteng public hospitals have been hit by linen shortages for more than a year, including night dresses, pillow cases, draw sheets, theatre towels, gowns, and doctor’s shirts and trousers.

This is admitted by Gauteng Health MEC Hope Papo in a written reply to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature.

According to Papo “almost all Gauteng hospitals have been affected in differing degrees” from January last year to the present.

The shortages occur in “intermittent phases” caused by the following:

  • Go slow strike at Masakhane laundry
  • Low linen stock holding levels against the number of patient admissions
  • Breaking of linen machines and power interruptions

It is unacceptable that linen shortages continue at hospitals. The consequences include cancellation of surgery and patients bringing their own linen, which causes infection control problems.

Last month, more than 30 operations were cancelled last week at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital because of a shortage of sterilised linen.

And earlier this year, patients were asked to bring their own linen at Pretoria’s Kalafong hospital, with some patients sleeping on bare mattresses.

Management problems at the Masakhane laundry in Rosslyn affects hospitals even in Johannesburg that are forced to use it.

Hospitals should be allowed to use private local laundries which are more reliable and cheaper than the six state laundries in Gauteng.