Queue disaster continues at Steve Biko Hospital

Jack Bloom MPL

DA Gauteng Shadow Health MEC

Long queues and waiting times continue at the Steve Biko Academic Hospital in Pretoria two months after a new electronic patient flow system was introduced.

This was my observation when I visited the hospital yesterday.

Hospital management said previously that teething problems would be sorted out with the new system, but most patients said that it had worsened the situation.

Patients queue outside the hospital from as early as 2 am, and only come inside when the doors are opened at 6.30 pm.

They then get a ticket number,  but can wait three hours to get their patient files.

If they need to see a doctor it’s another long wait, followed by some hours to get medicine at the pharmacy.

The pharmacy area was uncomfortably over-crowded when I visited at 2 pm (pictures available on request).

Here are some stories of patients (real names withheld):

  • Tsepo arrived at 4 am in the morning, then saw a doctor, and was still waiting for his medicine when I left at 2.30 pm
  • Pieter takes a day off work every month to collect his heart medicine. He arrived at 8 am, got his file at 11.30 am, and had not received his medicine at 2.30 pm
  • Gladness came at 7 am with her two year old brother to get his excema medicine, and was still there at 2.30 pm

I tried to speak to hospital management but they said that they could not speak to me as Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu had not given me permission to visit.

This is an outrageous restriction by MEC Mahlangu on my right of oversight, but I will continue with the DA’s campaign to cut long hospital queues.

The misery of long waiting times at Steve Biko Hospital is unacceptable. Sick and elderly people should never be treated so badly.

The new patient management system should be improved rapidly or abandoned in favour of a better system.