Safety at health facilities must be improved

By Harold McGluwa MPL DA Northern Cape Provincial Spokesperson of Health:

The DA has written to Northern Cape Health MEC, Mac Jack, to urgently commission a transparent review of security services being provided at health facilities throughout the Northern Cape.

This comes after reports that a nurse at Progress Clinic in Upington was assaulted by a patient during working hours earlier this week.

The DA recently highlighted the volatile safety situation at another Northern Cape Health facility; Kimberley Hospital (KH).

This came after a reply to a parliamentary question regarding safety at KH has revealed that 26 cases of theft have been reported at the facility i

n 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.

Escalating crime at Kimberley Hospital, and other health facilities, is a growing concern. It is not only healthcare workers but also patients who are at risk.

Kimberley Hospital alone spends R8 million per annum on private security services. This does not include the fees paid by the department or other health facilities for 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.

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, previously brought private security at state hospitals into question.

We call on Health MEC Jack to boldly tackle the critical issue of safety and security at all Northern Cape health facilities before another horrific crime takes place. Private security companies with multi-million rand contracts must be fired if they are not performing.

On the 24 July 2015, the DA submitted additional Parliamentary Questions to the MEC regarding security at health facilities. Amongst other things, we want to know which security companies are being utilised, what the value of the respective contracts are and what plans the department has to improve security services across the province.

Patients in the Northern Cape deserve quality healthcare that is safe and secure, and the department must ensure that security service providers are providing thorough security services.