DA said Gauteng health department needs to investigate problems with the company it contracts to delivery home oxygen to state patients, which allegedly led to three people dying. File picture: Reuters

JOHANNESBURG - The Gauteng health department needs to urgently investigate problems with the company it contracts to deliver home oxygen to state patients, which allegedly led to the death of at least three people, the Democratic Alliance said on Sunday.

"I am concerned that slow delivery of home oxygen tanks by a state contractor has reportedly led to a least three deaths in the Riverlea area in west Johannesburg since October last year," DA spokesman Jack Bloom said in a statement.

This was according to the Benchmarks Foundation’s local community monitor Charles van der Merwe, who also said that power cuts due to load shedding and a backlog in gas tank delivery over the festive season imperiled at least seven Riverlea residents dependent on respirators, he said.

Last week two people were rushed to hospital, and one was still in a critical condition, after not receiving their oxygen tanks in December. Riverlea had a particular problem with lung diseases because of toxic chemicals and dust from nearby mining operations.

"I suspect that other state patients in Gauteng are also suffering because of delays with delivering home oxygen. Last year I dealt with a tragic case where a patient at the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Hospital committed suicide after treatment problems that included a late delivery of oxygen. 

"Patients with breathing problems suffer badly, even with short oxygen breaks. The Gauteng health department needs to urgently investigate why there are problems with the company it contracts to delivery home oxygen to state patients," Bloom said.

African News Agency (ANA)