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Johannesburg - The Gauteng health department apologised on Friday for the inconvenience broken lifts at Natalspruit Hospital in Katlehong have caused.
“The department would like to sincerely apologise to patients, staff, and users of the hospital for the inconvenience caused by the malfunctioning lifts at Natalspruit Hospital,” spokesman Simon Zwane said.
The hospital's five lifts were more than 50 years old and spare parts were unavailable because the lift model was obsolete.
“Currently a team of technicians are on site to remediate the situation, we have been assured that three lifts will be operational shortly.”
Democratic Alliance health spokesman in the province Jack Bloom expressed concern about the state of affairs at the hospital.
“I am horrified by the report today 1/8Friday 3/8 that doctors are forced to carry patients on their backs to operating theatres at the Natalspruit Hospital because of broken lifts,” he said in a statement.
Zwane said patients were assisted to the second floor of the hospital for operations when the lifts were out of order, and were kept on that floor while they recuperated to ensure they did not strain or injure themselves.
Problems with the hospital's CT scanner were mitigated by transferring patients requiring scans to neighbouring hospitals.
“Natalspruit Hospital’s radiology team schedules bookings and accompany our patients to these hospitals,” Zwane said.
Emergency cases were transferred to Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital to ensure patients were treated promptly and with minimal inconvenience.
Zwane said the Natalspruit Hospital was faced with an increasing number of patients, including walk-in patients who could not be turned away.
“The hospital is currently facing an increased demand due to an escalation in the burden of disease, coupled with the increase in population size and indigent patients who have no place to go after being discharged.”
The number of nurses at the hospital was increased to help cope with these problems, he said.
Bloom asked when the New Natalspruit Hospital would be up an running.
“Former premier Nomvula Mokonyane promised that the New Natalspruit Hospital would be opened in July this year, but there have been repeated delays previously.”
Zwane said a team comprising officials from the health and infrastructure development departments was tasked with commissioning the new hospital.
“The process of commissioning involves the installation and testing of medical equipment and systems, induction of hospital staff, and technical snagging related to the hospital infrastructure.”
The new hospital would be ready to receive patients after this process, which was expected to be completed by the end of next month.