File picture: Marvin Gentry

Bloemfontein - The DA in the Free State on Monday described the province's health system as a “moral and constitutional failure”.

“It is not a technical failure but a moral failure,” said Democratic Alliance spokesman Wilmot James after a visit to various health facilities in the Free State.

“Imagine your mother lying for 15 days without a wash. The facility is there, the people are there, but nothing happens.”

James said the conditions at various public health facilities in the Free State pointed to a crisis.

He said the “collapse” of many services in the Free State health department could have been avoided if the provincial executive committee had adopted and implemented tried-and-tested administrative and financial mechanisms.

“The problems here in the Free State are nothing new and neither are the solutions.”

James said the extent to which the situation had deteriorated was indicative of a lack of political will and a culture of unaccountability.

DA MP Dr Heinrich Volmink, who formed part of an oversight visit to the Pelonomi Regional Hospital in Bloemfontein, released a list of problems the opposition found at the hospital.

This included patients with bone fractures lying on stretchers instead of beds in a referral ward, patients and nursing staff using coffee urns to boil water for general warm water use, and patients forced to bring own blankets and pillows to hospital due to a medical linen shortage.

James said the party was convinced that the Free State health system was near collapse and needed proper national intervention.

He said the provincial health department should be placed under administration.

“The DA have already submitted a letter to the national Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi requesting him to start the administration process.”

James said the DA would be looking into legal ways to force Motsoaledi into taking charge of the Free State health department after allowing him some reasonable time to intervene.

Free State health spokesman Mondli Mwambi said the department had long acknowledged the deficiencies with the health system.

“The MEC has indicated in his budget speech how the constraints would be handled.”

Mwambi said the department was working with provincial Treasury and the national health department to address the shortcomings with local health services.

“The executive have indicated that we are now on the right track and that the situation would not be resolved overnight,” he said.