King Edward/EMRS incident highlights DoH’s “don’t care” attitude

Dr Imran Keeka, MPL

DA KZN Spokesperson on Health:

THE DA in KwaZulu-Natal is shocked by a media report regarding paramedics being locked up by staff at King Edward Hospital.

According to the report, when paramedics arrived at the hospital’s casualty with several critical patients, there was no one to meet them. When they did eventually find the nursing staff, they were holding a meeting rather than attending to patients. Nursing staff then allegedly berated the paramedics for not calling in advance to say they were on their way.

After the paramedics reacted to this, they were locked in an office for some two hours, unable to respond to emergency calls.

The DA is stunned by this.  We demand to know why this happened.

Only very sick patients are taken to casualty by paramedics.  To then discover that there is no one to assist adds to patients’ trauma and in serious cases can lead to death.

No person seeking medical attention may be turned away from any healthcare facility.  In this case, the assessment and treatment of patients was delayed simply because the people working that night were uncaring and unscrupulous.

This incident has everything to do with patients’ rights to urgent medical care, in this or any other casualty, the bottom line being the alleged delay or denial of treatment.

I will today write to the KZN Health Ombudsman to request a full investigation into this matter and an assurance that there are severe consequences for those found guilty of any wrongdoing.

I also urge the paramedic company to pursue a charge of being illegally detained.

The lack of stern action by KZN Health MEC, Sibongiseni Dhlomo, when it comes to the violation of patient’s rights – and there have been so many instances – has in turn bred a “don’t care” culture within the province’s Health department.

It is time that the MEC showed some backbone and took decisive action in such cases.

Until then, the dignity, integrity and safety of patients will be abused and violated by those who are paid to take care of the most vulnerable. The responsibility for any death or disability that arises from such occurrences lies squarely at the door of the MEC and his department.