Limpopo health MEC Norman Mabasa has ordered an investigation into the deaths of four babies in the critically understaffed George Masebe government hospital over the festive season, Beeld reported on Tuesday.
“I want to know exactly how and when each child died. As we understand it, two died shortly after they arrived in the casualty unit, and the other two died after being admitted to the wards,” he said, shortly after paying an impromptu visit to the hospital “to prevent them from preparing for the visit”.
The SABC reported over the weekend that four babies had died of treatable illnesses because there were not enough doctors on duty to do ward rounds.
They also alleged that the entire hospital management contingent had been on leave.
Mabasa asked a commission of enquiry to report to him within a week, and said he would take action if hospital personnel had been negligent.
Meanwhile, labour union Nehawu said in a statement that the hospital's staff should be held accountable for the infants' deaths.
The union claimed that the hospital was 75 percent full when the babies died, with only one doctor on duty, and that basic medical supplies and stocks had been depleted.
Nehawu also said that three of the hospital's nine doctors had resigned in December.
According to Mabasa, a hospital like George Masebe, with 288 beds, should have 38 doctors, but it has only 8. - Sapa