Johannesburg - Two employees from the Gauteng Department of Health have been issued official warnings over the recent spate of power outages at Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital.
A source within the department revealed to The Star that the employees – one of whom works at the hospital, the other at the provincial head office – were given the written warnings on Thursday.
“The employees were found to have failed in taking adequate and proactive action to ensure availability of diesel supply for the generators. The suppliers had been paid but they (employees) didn’t ensure that the diesel was delivered to the hospital,” a source said.
The hospital experienced three power outages over two weeks last month, resulting in doctors having to use torches and their cellphones to perform operations and while treating severely ill patients.
In the first incident, the generators failed to kick in because they had no diesel. In the other incidents, two of the 12 generators had technical problems.
Elective operations had to be rescheduled.
On January 22, both the Gauteng MECs for Health (Hope Papo) and Infrastructure Development (Qedani Mahlangu) apologised to patients and their families, and took responsibility for the generators not kicking in due to technical problems.
At the end of last month, DA MPL Jack Bloom said while the generators were working, surgeons and anaesthetists refused to do elective surgery as “they don’t want to risk generators failing again”.
“It is outrageous that this hospital has an unreliable power supply,” Bloom said. “Staff and patients are traumatised by the repeated power failures, and waiting lists for surgery grow longer.”
The department stated that it would be investigating whether there was any dereliction of duty by anyone in taking appropriate action.
Department spokesman Simon Zwane confirmed that the employees were handed written warnings and that disciplinary processes were being followed, but would not disclose who the employees were.