Hospitals jacked up for premier’s ‘surprise’ inspection visits

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st p5secMECvisit851 INLSA CAUSED A STIR: Premier Nomvula Mokonyane, in black, accompanied by Health MEC Ntombi Mekgwe, at Bara.


THE FLOORS were spotless, security was tight.

On the surface of it, the Kliptown Clinic in Eldorado Park looked near-perfect ahead of a visit by Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane and MEC for Health Ntombi Mekgwe yesterday.

But patients who regularly visit the clinic said it was a far cry from normal operations.

Yesterday, security guards with hand-held metal detectors were at the clinic’s gate to search bags as people entered and exited the clinic.

Patients who arrived long before the sun rose said they had noticed more cleaning staff than usual.

st p5mainMECvisit156 PATIENTS BACKED-UP: A packed waiting area at Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital in Soweto yesterday during the visit by Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane and Health MEC Ntombi Mekgwe. Pictures: Dumisani Sibeko INLSA

“It’s never like this. I come here at least twice a month and I have never seen security guards before. I’ve certainly never had my bags searched here before,” said one patient, who did not want to be named.

Also speaking on condition of anonymity, another patient complained that the clinic often ran out of medication for children.

“Today I brought my child to get his three-month injection, but he couldn’t get it because they were out of stock. They also never had polio drops,” she said.

While Mokonyane acknowledged that patients faced unacceptably long queues that required them to start arriving at the clinic from as early as 5am, she denied that the public healthcare system was in a crisis.

She said clinics and hospitals were overburdened by patients from other provinces and outlying areas and that people were presenting to tertiary hospitals to be treated for flu or to collect medication like Brufen and Panado that was freely available at most shops.

At Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital, Mokonyane caused quite a stir, with some patients angered over long queues, poor administration and file keeping, and empty promises.

“She’s here blocking traffic but she won’t do anything,” one angry woman shouted. She was number 71 in the queue, having arrived at 6.30am.

Mokonyane said plans to extend the hospital’s maternity ward were in the pipeline. She admitted the ward was stretched when it came to the number of beds.

The premier also embarked on a door-to-door campaign around Kliptown and Eldorado Park, where she found a young disabled boy alone in a house. He had allegedly not been fed for three days, and his mother left him unattended every day. Mokonyane called for the child to be taken to hospital to receive medical attention.

Yesterday’s visits to several clinics and hospitals in the province involved all the members of the Gauteng executive committee.

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