Cape Town - Frustrated residents from various communities in the Witzenberg Municipality are demanding a change in management at Ceres Provincial Hospital.
A petition with more than 2 000 signatures was handed over to the department on Monday. Residents are demanding delivery of basic services and a motion of no confidence in the hospital’s current management.
They have given the department five working days to respond.
Naomi Betana of the Witzenberg Justice Coalition said residents were demanding action.
“Ceres Hospital is in crisis and we are worried because the stories are all the same in the communities we have visited. People are fed up and they want to see action. Our youth activists connected with community members, and with each signature comes a sad, horrific story.
Our demands to the department are clear, we want more beds and more doctors at Ceres Provincial Hospital. We want a change in the health crisis we are facing. Some of the residents sit at the clinic until 4pm and only get assisted when they are about to close. This is unacceptable. The Department of Health has failed our communities,” she said.
Resident Katinka Koopman said she had experienced issues with beds at the hospital.
“People still wait days before they can be helped, there are still very few doctors and the beds stink. Things just don't change and the management does not seem to be doing anything.
Last Thursday evening at 6pm the doctor helped the people from Tuesday.
Things just get worse instead of getting better,” said Koopman.
Provincial Health Department spokesperson for the Cape Winelands District, Sandra Maritz, said the department was aware of the challenges, and had consulted with stakeholders.
“Witzenberg is a rural area. Towns and health-care facilities are spread over this vast area.
The health system, as is the case in any geographical area, functions as one which consists of primary health services through clinics, and mobile services which support the district hospital.
There is a very large influx of patients coming to Ceres Hospital’s Emergency Centre. This pressure mounts as many of the patients needing hospitalisation have complex medical conditions and require a longer stay in hospital.”
She added: “Owing to the current financial constraints facing the whole department, there are no immediate plans to increase the resources to the Witzenberg and surrounds.
This is, however, not restricted to the Witzenberg area alone, and is a challenge we face across the province. The issue is not related to the number of ambulances, but instead is a staffing challenge as it takes nine staff to provide one ambulance 24/7/365.
Thus, increasing the number of resources (ambulances) to an area requires an increase in staff – which is simply not possible with the current budget,” she said.