Cape Town - The Western Cape Health Department has been roundly denounced for failing to make provision for an additional R150 million in its 2022/23 budget – tabled on Tuesday – for the Khayelitsha District Hospital.
The ANC in the legislature expressed disappointment at what it said was the department’s “blatant refusal” to make the additional funds available to the hospital despite an emphatic plea from the chief executive, hospital management and the board.
An ANC-led oversight visit to the hospital in January identified structural challenges affecting the quality of care, including a chronic shortage of staff and beds which resulted in patients sleeping on the floor.
During his presentation to the standing committee on health last month, the hospital’s CEO, David Binza, said about R157m was required to address staff shortages. Binza said 369 posts were needed, which included clinical support staff and allied health services posts.
Binza said the facility’s official beds totalled 340 but it operated with 442 beds. He said increasing the number of beds in the facility would be of assistance. He also said the hospital’s infrastructure needed to be improved in order for it to cope with the increased demand.
Binza said more needed to be done to address the issues that resulted in patients sleeping on the floor and while most of these problems were beyond the control of the hospital’s management and the board, support was needed.
ANC provincial health spokesperson Rachel Windvogel said challenges at the hospital arose years ago and it was close to the point of saturation. She said the problem of patients sleeping on the floors went as far back as 2018.
“The population of Khayelitsha has increased a lot since 2012. The hospital is now servicing double or triple the number it was originally designed for. This translates to the need for additional staff, beds and space. This is what the R150 million is needed for. Even if no request was made, what does the department think?” Windvogel said.
EFF provincial deputy chairperson Nosipho Makamba-Botya said it was disturbing that the department was not in a position to assist the hospital with the requested funds.
“Remarks from (Health MEC) Nomafrench Mbombo that patients will continue to sleep on the floor as there are no adequate beds and no staff to attend to those patients is not only disappointing but inhumane, more especially when it comes from an MEC who should be providing the hospital with the required funds and resources.
The provincial government is always boasting about having the best health-care system in the country. But the same government is not willing to provide services to the people who need them the most. This is shocking,” she said.
Nehawu provincial secretary Baxolile Mali said the union was not shocked by the DA controlled province’s decision as the party was only concerned about the welfare of its “rich constituency” in “white-dominated” suburbs.
Mali said had the shortage of such funds been needed in a sector where the beneficiaries would be their white constituency, the department would have intervened. He said Nehawu would mobilise the society against the DA-led government which he said only saw the value of the previously marginalised for votes.
DA provincial spokesperson on health, Wendy Philander, said despite the challenges the hospital experienced mortality of between 2% and 4%, levels comparable to other district hospitals in the city. She said this showed that despite the high demand, quality health care was being provided.
Philander said a 30-bed extension unit was planned to be completed next year for the psychiatry ward, which would relieve the pressures on the hospital.
Health Department’s spokesperson, Mark van der Heever, said no submission for an additional R150m was received from the hospital.
He said the public health system remained under severe pressure, with increased mental health and Covid19 pressures added to the traditional quadruple burden of disease.
“As a health department, we have done in-depth analysis and evaluation of the challenges and efficiencies to be gained at KDH. The result will be to look at the current expenditure in the area of agency staff expenditure and overtime payment and recommend improvements in those areas linked to the employment of permanent staff to ease clinical pressure points at the Khayelitsha District Hospital,” he said.
Van der Heever said the hospital was delivering good services despite the service pressures experiences through mental health and the Covid-19 pandemic.