NOT BAD: MEC Norman Mabasa says the state of healthcare is not bad. Picture: Montsho Matlala
Health and social development MEC Norman Mabasa says health services in the province were not in a “bad state” and he has put in place measures to tackle existing challenges.
Mabasa was responding to claims in an article in The New Age about a woman suffering from a kidney ailment in which she said she had been told that catheters and urine bags required for her treatment at Polokwane Provincial Hospital were out of stock.
Mabasa said the hospital had stocks of catheters and urine bags.
“Even when the story about the woman was in the paper, she had already been helped. It was not that catheters were out of stock but the doctor attending to the woman needed a specific size, which we did not have at the time,” he said.
He said shortages of certain drugs were often caused by delays on the part of hospital staff in placing orders with the medical depot.
Mabasa said for the past three months the medical depot had been run by the provincial and national health departments. “We want to ensure that drugs and other medication are ordered by us and not through a middleman after a tender process.”
He said the department had advertised 134 posts for pharmacists to run the depot efficiently.
Mabasa, a medical doctor, said he did not believe there was a shortage of essential medical equipment in the 40 hospitals and 443 clinics in the province.
The department has begun an audit of essential services such as X-rays and other equipment. The department has also said that it would take broken medical equipment to the manufacturers for repairs instead of engaging technicians to fix them.
Mabasa denied there was a shortage of nurses, and that new intakes and replacements for those who left or died had stalled because of financial constraints.
He said the department has already appointed 250 nurses and approved 13217 posts for professional nurses and 1854 vacancies for medical doctors.
“These positions are being filled.”
But the department, which along with five others has been under central government administration since December, has received 190 complaints on its hotline in the last three months about poor service.
“We intervene and where necessary we institute disciplinary actions,” said departmental spokesperson Sinenhlanhla Gumede.