Picture: Sandile Ndlovu/African News Agency (ANA)

Johannesburg - KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Health Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu on Wednesday expressed her dissatisfaction with the service provider for Durban’s Addington Hospital after it was found that lifts in the hospital were not working when a fire broke out on Tuesday.

On Tuesday, medical waste and general refuse caught fire on the 7th floor of the hospital, leading to the paediatric and neo-natal units being evacuate. The 140-year-old hospital has been plagued by malfunctioning lifts, which has at times affected the movement of patients, staff, visitors, as well as the delivery of food to patients, and the removal of garbage. 

The MEC said she wanted to know why the service provider responsible for the servicing, repair and maintenance of the lifts was unable to ensure that the lifts are always working, just like those at the many top hotels situated along the beachfront.

During a visit to the hospital on Wednesday morning, Simelane-Zulu instructed senior management of the department to act speedily to ensure the smooth functioning of the lifts.

"The briefing that we received is that the fire started just outside the service lift, which was not working at the time and had not been working for a number of days. Unfortunately, the garbage that actually comes out of the wards is kept next to the service lift if it is not working. Now, that is where the fire came from.

"Of course, we are told this was not the first time in the hospital that they’ve had a fire. We have requested the head of department and senior management to investigate what led to the fire, because it’s a matter that we need to deal with," said Simelane-Zulu.

"However, we understand that there are other underlying circumstances that are going to have to be dealt with by the department. One of them is the fact that the lifts in this hospital are generally a problem, and there is one service provider that is giving us a shoddy service, to say the least."

The MEC said they were going to engage with the service provider and relook the contract and what can be done because they should be provided with a service that they were paying for.

"We understand that we are at the beachfront, where there are a number of tourist attractions and hotels whose lifts are always working, and it gives us an impression that as a department we are not a priority to this service provider. As a result, our people are disadvantaged. 

"So we are going to engage with them. I know that the department engaged with the same service provider last year, and they committed to change their service and do things better, but that hasn’t happened.

"We are taking serious exception to that. We will be talking to them, and we will do what needs to be done legally to get a proper level of service because the poor people who are using this hospital deserve better. There is no-one in this world who will walk up all those flights of stairs when they are sick, and we shouldn’t expect our people to undergo the same thing," said Simelane-Zulu.

The MEC thanked nurses who were instrumental in the safe evacuation of patients.

African News Agency (ANA)