Several interest groups say the looming closure of GF Jooste Hospital will leave a vacuum in health services in the Klipfontein region andwould also overburden the province’s brand new hospitals in Khayelitsha and Mitchells Plain.
The hospital,in Manenberg is one of the busiest in the Western Cape and is to be closed down early next year for three years.
Faiza Steyn, spokeswoman for the Western Cape Health Department, confirmed this week that the hospital would be demolished in April and rebuilt from scratch.
Steyn said that during the construction period, services would be relocated to the new Mitchells Plain Hospital as an interim measure.
She said emergency patients would be accommodated by other emergency centres within the Klipfontein subdistrict while in-patients would be absorbed by nearby hospitals as well as Groote Schuur Hospital.
But Damaris Kiewiets, chairwoman of the Cape Metro Health Forum, said transferring patients to the new hospital would defeat the purpose the Mitchells Plain Hospital was built for.
She said the Khayelitsha and Mitchells Plain hospitals had been touted by the department as “bringing health services to the people and taking the load off the overburdened GF Jooste Hospital”.
“The closure will definitely overburden the new Khayelitsha and Mitchells Plain hospitals.”
She also said the move to close down the hospital had not yet been communicated to affected communities who would now have to seek specialist services elsewhere.
“We still don’t know where those specialist services will be offered during the three years of construction, how patients will access them or if they will be brought back when the hospital reopens.
“There’s a whole range of issues that will affect patients negatively here, including access to transport services to these alternative hospitals,” she said.
The SA Medical Association (Sama) has also expressed dismay at the closure of the hospital.
Dr Zameer Brey, Sama’s provincial chairman, said the shuffling of patients to other hospitals would negatively impact on health services offered at those facilities.
“We estimate that GF Jooste caters for about 80 000 patients a year and services over a million. Imagine what will happen to health services if all of a sudden patients from GF Jooste are transferred to these facilities, which are already overburdened?”
He said everything would fall apart.
Both the Democratic Nursing Organisation of SA (Denosa) and the National Education Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) expressed concerns about the career prospects of health workers from GF Jooste.
They said that while they had been informed of the closure, there were no clear details of where staff would go or if they would keep their jobs.