Pin it
October 10, 2015 | Last Updated 7:04 AM
Image Loading

Subscribe to newsletters

MOBILE RSS twitter facebook
Comment & Analysis
Guest Column: Gauteng health in crisis - MEC

Ayanda Mkhwanazi

The Gauteng health department has acknowledged that it has serious staff shortfalls and that suppliers have not been paid.

Following a report about newborn babies dying at Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital due to negligence by hospital staff, the hospital management have come out and admitted that there is a crisis.

Gauteng health MEC Ntombi Mekgwe said there was a critical shortage of trained theatre nurses working at the maternity ward of the facility.

“Yes, we agree that we generally have a shortage of nurses. At the moment, there are 20 trained specialists in theatre nursing, with an additional five sent by the minister,” Mekgwe said.

“In terms of the shift system in theatre, we have four shifts, each of them with five people per shift. In a normal theatre, you need six. This means on every shift we are short of one nurse.”

The national Minister of Health, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, recently intervened and sent five theatre staff from the military health service to alleviate the nursing shortage at Chris Hani Bara’s maternity section.

Deputy CEO of the hospital Dr Pungie Lingham said that despite the staff shortage, the number of still births at the hospital had remained constant over the past three years.

“The percentages of still births in 2009 against total deaths are 3%, then it went to 2.7% and in 2011 it was 2.8 %.

“Even though there has been a shortage of highly trained specialised nurses, the impact on the number of still births has, if anything, been less.”

Meanwhile, services have been severely disrupted in many Gauteng hospitals as suppliers of services and medical products stopped deliveries due to the inability of the provincial health department to pay for services rendered.

At an urgent meeting this week between senior clinicians and officials of the national Health Department, a consensus was reached that services would be restored.

Concerned doctors said the absence of key tools and equipment was hindering them from providing quality service to the public.

The National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS) is owed more than R2bn and the facility has resorted to closing down some of their sites in Gauteng and Kwa-Zulu Natal.

Chairperson of the Treatment Action Campaign Nonkosi Khumalo said the closure of the health labs had put the lives of HIV-positive patients at risk.

She said they were ready to take the health department to court should services not be restored.

The NHLS has more than 7000 people on their payroll. CEO Dr Sagie Pillay said morale was low in the organisation and his staff were fearful that they might soon be out of jobs.

He said his priority was reassuring them by word of mouth that retrenchments were not imminent.

Ayanda Mkhwanazi is a radio journalist at Health-e News. This article was first published on the organisation’s website: and is published here with permission





Comment: *

Close Name:




arrowWe need to deal with racism legally
Pinky Khoabane - 8/10/2015 12:09
The Democratic Alliance’s soft-approach in dealing with Dianne Kohler-Barnard’s nostalgic longing for the days of PW Botha is symptomatic of a wider problem facing South Africa; the unwillingness of a country which underwent centuries of the brutalit
arrowTransformation should be directed at education sector
Mmasekepe Matsebane - 4/10/2015 9:37
The wave of change, ushered through by the black consciousness philosophy that was espoused by Steve Biko, is getting the country into a positive frenzy.
arrowCorbyn’s election a sign of the times
Tom Wheeler - 22/9/2015 16:07
Choice of new leftist Labour leader by party rank and file points to radical shift in policy The election of Jeremy Corbyn, a hard-line leftist as leader of the British Labour Party last week came as a shock to many, including to his fellow Labour P
arrowWhat happened to Biko’s black consciousness?
Yonela Diko - 17/9/2015 11:39
Did the challenge posed by Steve Biko and the Black Consciousness Movement, especially to the black people lose its relevance with our historic victory of 1994?
arrowNew artists must create new visions for SA
Sandile Memela - 16/9/2015 13:31
Am I the only guy who is fed up with the crisis of creative leadership and lack of innovation in the artistic sector? sudoku