Ulundi’s Ceza Hospital is the last place anyone should go for medical help

Dr Imran Keeka, MPL

DA KZN Spokesperson on Health

LAST week’s parliamentary oversight visits to health institutions around the province has revealed that Ulundi’s Ceza Hospital is the last place anyone should go for medical help, with only two doctors available and some patients forced to share beds due to chronic resource shortages.

According to DA KZN MPL, Hlanganani Gumbi, who visited this hospital, the delegation was told that there are supposed to be eight doctors but six had resigned between January and August this year.  There are now problems with recruitment because there is also no accommodation for doctors.

One of just two doctors currently working at the hospital is also the Acting CEO, trying to combine his role of treating patients and doing admin.  According to KZN’s Health MEC, Sibongiseni Dhlomo, this could become a trend in smaller hospitals in a bid to save money.  While this may make fiscal sense, it makes no clinical sense.

Major issues uncovered during the visit were;

–          One defibrilator available for the whole hospital

–           An X ray machine which is not being used on the basis that there is no internet making it impossible to email images to Ngwelezane Hospital for diagnosis.  This is a pathetic excuse.  Doctors have enough training to make several interpretations of X-Rays, after which formal specialist reports may follow.

–          A 3 to 4 hour waiting period for medical attention and perhaps even longer.  With only two doctors, it is unknown how quickly urgent matters receive attention or how several priority one emergencies are handled

–          An exorbitant water bill since the local community often utilise hospital water supplies due to frequent cuts in the town.

According to the hospital board chairman at least three letters have been sent to MEC Dhlomo and his department requesting assistance with these key issues.  To date there has allegedly been no response.

At a meeting held directly after the visit, it was agreed by the parliamentary delegation that every effort should be made to urgently assist Ceza Hospital.  This included a commitment from Benedictine (Nongoma) and Itshelejuba (Phongolo) Hospitals to assist by each allowing one of their own doctors to consult there a few hours a week.

While this resolution is admirable it is far from ideal as it will severely test these other hospitals which are also stretched in terms of medical personnel.

I will today write to MEC Dhlomo and ask him to respond to claims that he has ignored the hospital board’s pleas for assistance.  I will also ask what immediate steps he and his department plan to take to turn this hospital around.