Staff resign at overcrowded Natalspruit Hospital

Jack Bloom MPL

DA Gauteng Shadow Health MEC

Overworked staff are resigning at the new Natalspruit Hospital in Vosloorus because of the severe overcrowding of patients.

I discovered this yesterday (6 October) when I visited there as part of the DA’s campaign to cut hospital queues.

Nurses have resigned at the Obstetrics department because of a large increase in patients who should normally be treated at local clinics but don’t trust the care they would receive there.

I also saw long queues at the Urology and Ophthalmology departments. Patients complained that they had arrived in the early morning but were still not seen by 2pm. They said that the queues were worse than at the old Natalspruit Hospital.

There is only one urology specialist and two medical officers to handle 80 patients on Mondays and about 70 patients on Thursdays. The Natalspruit urology unit is the only one for patients in the east rand.

Ironically, the paperless electronic system that has replaced files is a major cause of delay because it takes time to register patients on it and many staff have not yet been trained to use it.

I hope that the teething problems in the electronic filing system are overcome soon, but the more serious problem is the shortage of staff to deal with the increased patient volume.

It’s a vicious circle as staff resignations increase the strain on remaining staff, who are also tempted to work elsewhere.

I was told that many nurses who left took up positions at the local government clinics.

These clinics need to have doctors and extended hours to attract patients who presently bypass them to go to the hospital instead, causing the crowding problem.

The new hospital is a magnificent facility, but needs proper staffing and management to ensure quality and prompt service for all patients.