PRETORIA - Within just hours into his appointment as Health Minister, Zweli Mkhize on Thursday expressed shock over allegations that a 76-year-old patient was tied to benches in the waiting area at Mamelodi Day Hospital in Pretoria.
Department of health spokesperson Popo Maja said Mkhize and the new Gauteng Health MEC Bandile Masuku have "expressed outrage" after the incident went viral on social media.
Nursing staff at the Mamelodi Hospital allegedly tied 76-year-old Martha Marais's hands behind her back and to the metal chairs, forcing her on to the cold floor since Tuesday night.
"The MEC and the head of Gauteng Health are currently at the Mamelodi Hospital to establish circumstances surrounding the brutal treatment of this elderly patient at the hospital.
"The MEC visited the hospital to demand answers from the hospital management and also to give support to the patient and ensure that she received quality care," Maja said.
"We must maintain dignity of our patients and our officials should maintain high level of professionalism. At face value, it appears that the patient was ill-treated and the standard operating procedure was not followed to the letter."
Maja said both Mkhize and Masuku have called for a full investigation and that officials who were involved in the incident be stopped from interacting with the patients.
"Consequence management should be implemented with immediate effect. The ministry of health reiterates that the substandard services and ill-treatment of vulnerable members of our society who depend on (the) public health system during their weakest moments should not be tolerated," Maja said.
"A central focus of the sixth administration will be to improve patients' experience of care and strengthen front line service for the betterment of the millions who depend on us."
Marias was referred by the Eersterust clinic to Mamelodi Day Hospital as she needed urgent medical attention.
The hospital caters for patients from Mamelodi, Nellmapius, Eersterust, East Lynne, Cullinan, Pretoria East, Nkangala and Bronkhorstspruit.
African News Agency (ANA)