By Jack Bloom MPL, DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health and Strike Tshabalala, Treatment Action Campaign Gauteng Chairperson:
The biggest problems at Mamelodi Hospital are shortage of staff and beds, which leads to unacceptable long waiting times.
This is our conclusion after a visit this morning by DA MPL Jack Bloom and Strike Tshabalala, Gauteng Chairperson of the Treatment Action Campaign and Goodness Mbatha, TAC branch organiser.
We met with Acting CEO Dr Lesego Pooe and visited the casualty, maternity and neonatal units.
We were shocked to find that the measured average waiting time at casualty is 200 minutes (3 hours and 20 minutes) as opposed to the benchmark of 100 minutes.
This is completely unacceptable and needs to improve as soon as possible.
Dr Pooe said that a major part of the problem was that many patients should go to the casualty at local clinics like Stanza Bopape rather than the hospital which is over-crowded. We agree that the community does need to be educated on using clinics more often when appropriate, but the Mamelodi Hospital casualty needs to be expanded with sufficient staff as well.
Another problem area is that 25 new-born babies are in the neonatal ICU which only has 16 incubators. We saw warmers with two babies lying next to each other which is an infection risk.
This hospital is desperately short of nurses – only 155 out of 445 nurse posts are filled, which means that the hospital is short of 290 nurses.
Overall, the hospital is short of 366 staff, with only 871 filled positions out of 1237 posts.
Dr Pooe said they were trying to recruit extra staff but had few applicants for the positions.
The average bed occupancy is 88% which is very high and means that some patients will not find a bed at peak periods.
We were pleased to hear that there are plans to expand the neonatal ward and the casualty but this hospital has been plagued by poor contractors who fail to do the job. We hope that the best contractor is appointed speedily, not one with political connections.
A recent example is that there were no blankets for patients this past winter because the contractor failed to supply them. Dr Pooe said that they were appointing a new contractor.
We were disturbed that most of the sisters did not wear name badges and some patients complained about the poor attitude of nurses.
The last patient satisfaction survey was done in December last year. These surveys should be done more often and action taken to improve satisfaction levels.
We did see positive things like clean floors and the pharmacy seems to work well. Dr Pooe said that there was 98% medicine availability, and any shortages were not the fault of the hospital but occurred at other levels.
We hope that the Gauteng Health Department attends to identified problems so that Mamelodi Hospital shakes off a bad reputation and becomes a centre of treatment excellence.