Shongwe and Tonga Hospitals Vacancy Rates must be reduced

By Jane Sithole MPL, Spokesperson on Health:

The following statement was delivered today in Nkomazi by the DA Spokesperson on Health, Jane Sithole MPL, during a sitting on a snap debate on Heritage Day.  Taking Legislature to the People.

Honourable Speaker.

I rise to deliver a member statement on behalf of the Democratic Alliance.

Hon. Speaker, on Tuesday Health MEC, Hon. Mashego said that Shongwe hospital vacancy rate for professional nurses is at 54.8%, medical officers/doctors at 85% and Tonga Hospital vacancy rate for professional nurses is at 37%, medical officers/doctors at 66%.

Due to the above vacancy rates, Shongwe Hospital has to turn away 178 patients and similarly Tonga hospital had to turn away 98 patients due to staff shortages. Hon. MEC went further to say these hospitals have to limit the beds used by patients due to staff shortages.

The Department is always quick to say that they are unable to find staff to fill the vacancies due to these hospitals being in rural areas but Hon Speaker, Mpumalanga Health department has been advised by the Budget and Finance Committee to stop all appointments of healthcare professionals due to the Health Department not being able to manage its debt.

This decision to freeze appointments calls into question Finance MEC, Eric Kholwane’s decision to lift the Health department’s curatorship after stating that the department was now financially stable – this drastic step proves that MEC Kholwane was grossly mistaken.

These and many more healthcare facilities across the province are severely understaffed, which leads to community members having to wait many hours to be seen by tired and overworked healthcare professionals.

Hon Speaker, in the Western Cape the DA has reduced the vacancy rate of permanent and professional nurses to less than 1%.

Mpumalanga Health Department can learn from the DA-led government in the Western Cape by:

  • Managing its debt
  • Reduce the vacancy rate in all health facilities in Mpumalanga to alleviate long queues

Access to health care is a basic human right, not a nice to have.

I thank you