While plans to build a new hospital in Paarl have been welcomed, residents have raised concern that it must not result in the closure of clinics.
This comes after news travelled across the Drakenstein, that the Mbekweni and Phola Park clinics would be closed after the construction of the Groenheuwel Day Hospital.
According to Paarl community activist Edgar Petersen, the closure of the clinics would result in residents from the two communities having to travel about 5km for health-care services.
“The department is yet to conduct a formal consultation process with residents about their plans. So far it’s the nurses at these clinics who have told people about these closure possibilities,” he said.
“We are against any further closure of health facilities. About two clinics have closed in the Drakenstein area for a building of a centralised health-care service. Groenheuwel Day Hospital is a great idea, but we would advise that the two clinics remain open.
“From a client or patient perspective, this will have a negative impact on people. It poses a significant challenge, especially for those without personal transportation,” said Petersen.
ANC provincial health spokesperson Rachel Windvogel said the reports have sparked alarm, with the local community convening public meetings.
“This situation would place an undue financial burden on individuals who would need to spend money they may not have to access health-care services. While the ANC welcomes the provincial government’s plan to construct a new hospital in the area, we vehemently oppose the closure of existing facilities. The potential closure of these clinics is not only myopic but also exemplifies a concerning disregard for the health-care needs of our communities, which we find deeply troubling,” said Windvogel.
Provincial health department spokesperson for the Cape Winelands District, Sandra Maritz, said the construction of the new facility was planned for 2026, depending on budget constraints.
“Communities continue to grow, and to give more residents easier access to health care, Western Cape Government Health and Wellness plans to build a Community Day Centre (a ‘day hospital’) in Groenheuwel, an area central to the communities of Dalvale, Mbekweni and Phola Park.
“Existing facilities will for now continue unchanged,” Maritz said.
“Social media and other messages stating that facilities will close are untrue. Services continue as usual.
“We work alongside communities to give services, and value their input.
“As standard procedure, we consult with communities and other role-players when we embark on infrastructure projects or when there are changes in the package of care we offer.
“We are following the same approach when it comes to a newly proposed facility in Groenheuwel,” she said.