Kimberley Hospital over-crowding and mixed gender wards must be investigated

By Harold McGluwa MPL DA Northern Cape Provincial Chairperson:

The DA has today written to the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Health, Thapelo Dithebe, requesting that the Legislature’s Health Committee conducts an urgent oversight visit to the Kimberley Hospital (KH) in order to investigate mixed-gender wards and overcrowding at the facility. (Letter attached for your information)

At KH, there is a lack of facilities to separate male and female patients in some wards, specifically the mental health patients in the 72 hour mental health observation unit. There also remains overcrowding of mental health users in the 72-hour unit due to inadequate beds at West End hospital. At the same time, there is overcrowding at the rehabilitation over-night stay unit, with a total of 72 patients staying in a 36 bed unit.

The DA is concerned that the mixed-gender ward and ongoing overcrowding is placing patients at risk of lower quality of care and reduced patient safety.

Sleeping vulnerable women in the same unit as men with mental health problems is inappropriate for all concerned.

Studies further indicate overcrowding is associated with higher numbers of patients who leave without being seen or against medical advice and that medication is not dispensed as needed in overcrowded conditions and that the frequency of errors, such as incorrect doses, increases.

While there is no proof of such adverse effects having occurred, we cannot tolerate a situation whereby sick people run the risk of getting lost in the queue or of being exposed to undue threats against their person due to the inadequacy of the healthcare system.

The DA wants the Portfolio Committee to urgently scrutinize the overcrowding and sleeping arrangements, as well as usage of toilet and bathroom facilities being used within the 72-hour observation and overnight stay units. We also urgently need to establish whether children are being housed at the overnight-stay unit.

The DA believes that a caring government must ensure that accessible, affordable, high quality health care is available to every South African.