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Oversight visit planned at Khayelitsha hospital after patients seen sleeping on the floor

Dr Kenny Jacobs said that having seen pictures of patients sleeping on the floor in the hospital, he would engage the committee members based in the city for an unofficial visit. Picture:Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency (ANA)

Dr Kenny Jacobs said that having seen pictures of patients sleeping on the floor in the hospital, he would engage the committee members based in the city for an unofficial visit. Picture:Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Jul 26, 2022

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Cape Town - Parliament’s portfolio committee on health is considering undertaking an oversight visit to the Khayelitsha District Hospital (KDH).

This after social media posts have once again emerged of patients sleeping on the floor and chairs with people sharing their horrible personal experiences about the hospital.

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The committee’s chairperson, Dr Kenny Jacobs, indicated yesterday that currently, they are not conducting oversight visits as Parliament is in recess.

However, he said having seen pictures of patients sleeping on the floor in the hospital, he would engage the committee members based in the city for an unofficial visit.

He said the committee had to apply through structures to conduct official oversight visits.

In January, similar circumstances led the ANC in the province to conduct an oversight visit. During the visit, the party discovered that structural challenges affected the quality of care at the hospital, including a chronic shortage of staff and beds which resulted in patients sleeping on the floor.

Consequently, it demanded the provincial Health and Wellness Department allocate an additional R150 million to the hospital, as was requested by the hospital’s management when it appeared before the standing committee on health.

However, during the department’s budget vote 2022/23 in the same month, the provision was not made.

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During the meeting, KDH CEO David Binza revealed that the hospital had a 340-bed capacity which he said was often exceeded by 130% and more. He said 369 posts needed at the hospital included clinical, support staff and allied health services posts.

Binza attributed the hospital’s shortcomings to rapid population growth in the area, underfunding, staff, and bed shortage.

The ANC’s provincial health spokesperson, Rachel Windvogel, said the challenges at the hospital came from years back and were close to saturation point.

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Windvogel said patients were sleeping on the floors in 2018 already, when the National Council of Provinces conducted an oversight visit which culminated in the Sigogo Petition on KDH. She said rapid population growth, rising poverty levels, drugs and substance abuse and violent crimes were adding to the service pressures at the hospital.

Western Cape Department of Health (Khayelitsha Eastern Substructure) spokesperson Abulele Dyasi said the past weekend was busy with trauma cases and the emergency team was under enormous pressure. She said this affected patient waiting times and patients who were triaged as green or yellow had to wait longer.

“To ensure we treat people with life-threatening and urgent conditions first, we triage patients on arrival according to the seriousness of their condition. It sometimes happens that some patients choose to sit or sleep in the waiting area because they prefer not to go home when discharged in the evening for safety reasons, or while they are waiting to be fetched by family members,” she said.

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Dyasi said the health system was experiencing mental health pressures at all levels, and the department was putting plans in place to relieve it by strengthening specialised referral systems and community and primary health care mental health services.

As indicated in March, the department reiterated that there had been no submission received for an additional R150m to address challenges at the hospital.

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