Kimberley Hospital safety must be reviewed

By Harold McGluwa MPL DA Northern Cape Provincial Chairperson:

The DA calls upon Northern Cape Health MEC, Mac Jack, to urgently commission an honest review of security services being provided at Kimberley Hospital by a private security company. If they are not performing then they must be fired.

This comes after a reply to a parliamentary question regarding safety at KH has revealed that 26 cases of theft have been reported at the facility in the past two years. These include incidents of office breaking, as well as theft of cellphones, computers, laptops, medicine, money, furniture, a motor vehicle, medical equipment, medical tools, workshop equipment, a water pump, and a bicycle.

Other crimes reported on the hospital premises since the start of the year include assault, fighting and riotous behaviour, use of narcotics, reckless and negligent driving, ATM scams and possession of dangerous weapons. In fact, over 200 dangerous weapons were confiscated at the facility and are due to be handed over to the police for destruction.

Every quarter, for the past year, the department has reported that there is inadequate safety and security for staff, patients and property at Kimberley Hospital(KH) and that a high incidence of theft is reported at this facility. While the DA has pushed for safety and security to be improved in terms of the hospital’s new budget, this has not been the case. Instead, our concerns have escalated with increasing crime.

The Health department spends millions of rands per annum on private security services. These services are meant to entail basic guarding and physical security, including access control, regular patrols, searching, traffic control, escorting of staff during night duties, and safe guarding of institutional assets. The effectiveness of these services is, however, questionable.

Ironically, the ATM, which itself has been targeted by criminals, is situated right next to the security guard box. The DA further has it on good authority that despite other minimal security measures such as walkthrough metal detectors and disc permits for vehicle access control, hospital staff who work irregular hours, continue to fear for their safety.

After dark, doctors and nurses have to walk down a long, deserted underground corridor to get from Block A to Block B. Others say they feel uneasy taking the isolated lifts when they are on call, or even walking to their cars in the unlit parking lot. Furthermore, some units, like the theatres, have no access control whatsoever. At the same time, hospital personnel say the visibility of the security guards is almost non-existent and that when you need them, they are nowhere to be found.

It is not only healthcare workers but also patients who are at risk.

The gang rape of a doctor at Pelonomi Hospital in Bloemfontein in 2010, and last year when a nurse was raped at the Helen Joseph Hospital in Johannesburg, has brought private security at state hospitals into question.

The DA calls on MEC Jack to tackle the critical issue of safety and security at Kimberley Hospital before a similarly horrific crime takes place under his own nose.

Patients in the Northern Cape deserve quality healthcare in terms of their constitutional right, that is safe and secure and doesn’t endanger their life and limb.