By Jack Bloom MPL, DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health:
Alternative arrangements following the temporary closure of the medical casualty unit at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital have been poorly planned and implemented.
This is my conclusion after my visit yesterday to both Bara Hospital and the Bheki Mlangeni Hospital in Jabulani where the medical casualty has been relocated.
I visited after receiving complaints by both staff and patients that Bheki Mlangeni hospital was not coping well with the influx of emergency medical patients.
It is important to note that the trauma casualty at Bara is still operating, but the medical casualty has been closed because it is undergoing renovations that are expected to be completed early next year. Typical medical cases are suspected heart attacks or illness, as opposed to victims of violence or car accidents.
I was told that Priority 1 emergency medical cases would still be treated at Bara, but other cases are taken by ambulance to Bheki Mlangeni for treatment.
But Mr Cecil Morgan of Lenasia blames the Bara casualty for the death of his son as he was redirected to Bheki Mlangeni on 31 May, where he later died after a long delay before he was seen by a doctor.
I was unable up get a full assessment of the situation at Bheki Mlangeni as the hospital CEO refused to talk to me without permission from Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu.
But it seems to me that they are not coping well with medical casualty even though Bara staff have been moved there.
Staff said to me that they couldn’t understand why a medical casualty had not been set up at Bara in an unused ward, as happened before when there were renovations.
It complicates matters for patients to be transported in high numbers to Bheki Mlangeni, which is not geared up to cope with them, especially after hours.
Last month, Ms Thabisile Matsitse of Pimville said her 62-year-old mother waited 14 hours before bring seen by a doctor at Bheki Mbangeni, and then died four days later.
There are other horror stories, including the claim by Mr Bongani Mazibuko that treatment was delayed to his father because he did not have R20 admission fee.
The Gauteng Health Department needs to urgently review the arrangements for medical casualty in Soweto so as to ensure minimum disruption and maximum care for patients.