Gauteng Premier David Makhura talks to artists at the State Theatre. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency(ANA)
Gauteng Premier David Makhura talks to artists at the State Theatre. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency(ANA)

Makhura under pressure to deliver on Covid-19 beds promise

By Baldwin Ndaba Time of article published Dec 31, 2020

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Johannesburg - The DA in Gauteng has urged Premier David Makhura to live up to a promise to deliver 2 000 hospital beds at all provincial health facilities ahead of the Covid-19 January wave.

Gauteng DA’s health spokesperson Jack Bloom said Makhura had promised that the new beds would be built at existing hospitals to treat Covid-19 patients.

These beds were all supposed to be ready for an expected surge in August/September, but by this time the first surge of cases was on the way down.

Bloom said according to the latest figures there are currently 2 549 Covid-19 patients in Gauteng hospitals, both public and private.

He said at the peak of the surge in July there were 7 500 Covid-19 patients, so the extra 2 000 beds should significantly ease the strain if they were properly staffed and equipped.

Reconfiguration has added 282 general beds at the Discoverers, Tembisa, Lenasia South, and George Mukhari hospitals, and 254 more high care/ICU beds at the Tembisa, Helen Joseph, Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg, Chris Hani Baragwanath, Tshwane District and Kopanong hospitals.

Another 176 ICU beds were supposed to be completed at the Anglo Ashanti Hospital in Carletonville.

“1 400 completely new high care/ICU beds were promised at the following hospitals: Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital – 500; Jubilee Hospital – 300; George Mukhari Hospital – 300 and Kopanong Hospital – 300

“In addition to this, there are 1 000 low-level beds at the Nasrec field hospital which have been largely empty, and fewer than 10% of its beds were used at any one time. The poorly-drafted 6-month contract for this facility ends on January 31 next year and more than R200 million has been paid for hundreds of empty beds. A more rational and cost-effective contract is needed for any beds that may be needed there after January,” Bloom said.

He said mistakes had been made with wasteful spending on beds that may not be used fully because of their location and lack of staff, saying this was particularly the case with the Anglo Gold Hospital, which was renovated at the exorbitant budgeted cost of R589 million.

“The big challenge is proper staffing, equipment and oxygen supplies for all the extra beds. I welcome the 246 extra staff that will start work in January at the Chris Hani Hospital, and I hope the other hospitals have enough staff to cope with the expected surge of Covid-19 cases next year,” he said.

“I have requested the chairperson of the Gauteng Legislature’s Health Committee for an urgent meeting to get a full briefing from the Gauteng Health Department on their state of readiness for the surge to come,” Bloom said.

He said the province needs to ensure that everything is done to ensure we have enough hospital staff with sufficient resources, including decent personal protective equipment (PPEs).

Gauteng government spokesperson Thabo Masebe said all the DA’s concerns have been attended to, saying not all the beds have been secured but efforts were being made to secure them before the January wave.

Masebe, however, said the infrastructure and equipment had been secured – including the appointment of staff.

Last night, he also confirmed that the provincial government would go ahead with Covid-19 testing for everybody returning to Gauteng after the festive season in January.

“The aim is to prevent the further surge and strain on our health facilities,” Masebe said.

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