Johannesburg - Tembisa Hospital in Ekurhuleni has delivered more than 50 000 babies in the last three years, according to MEC of Health and Wellness Nomantu Nkomo-Ralehoko.
Nkomo-Ralehoko said Tembisa Provincial Tertiary Hospital’s (TPTH) neonatal and maternity wards have delivered 50 661 babies – 17 122 were delivered in 2020/21, 17 054 in 2021/22 and 16 485 in 2022/23.
The successful delivery of babies at Tembisa Hospital comes as a silver lining on a dark cloud, as the hospital has been plagued by bad press over procurement issues and service delivery. The news of safe deliveries is a positive sign for the Gauteng Department of Health, which is also facing lawsuits worth millions of rand for botched medical procedures.
“Sadly, some of the babies (1.5%) died in the past three years (237 in 2020/21, 271 in 2021/22, 280 in 2022/23) due to infections, immaturity-related hypoxia, congenital anomalies and other causes. Despite neonatal and maternity staff members responding to an overwhelming influx of patients, the team has worked tirelessly to ensure a 98.5% successful delivery rate,” Nkomo-Ralehoko said.
The DA’s Jack Bloom said he was concerned that the percentage of deaths from infections has risen to 37%, which is much higher than the 25.1% in 2020. Hypoxia deaths are also up to 15.2%, compared to 11% last year and 14.8% the year before, according to Bloom.
“This is a disturbing upward trend in deaths from causes that could probably have been avoided with better care,” he said.
Nkomo-Ralehoko gave assurances that issues of resource challenges, such as staff and equipment shortages at the facility, have been prioritised.
“To augment existing posts, the facility has now filled 25 of the 32 posts recently advertised. Fifteen professional nurses and 10 enrolled nurses started work on June 1. Three posts of enrolled nursing assistants are in the process of being filled with job advertisements that closed last month, while TPTH is working on attracting four specialty nurses,” she said.
The MEC said that over and above the mentioned funded posts, the institution has submitted a motivation to create more posts in order for the hospital to be aligned with a tertiary facility’s human resources structure.
“Furthermore, in a bid to improve quality of care at Tembisa Hospital’s neonatal and maternity departments, equipment like an EEG machine, an MRI scan, and an ultrasound machine with cranial and cardiac probes has been included in the 2023/24 demand plan and the National Tertiary Services Grant business plan. The hospital continues to ensure that the procurement of medical consumables, which requires regular stock, is ongoing,” Nkomo-Ralehoko said.
Bloom said Tembisa Hospital has been rocked by scandal due to irregular and wasted spending amounting to R1 billion over the last three years, according to a Special Investigating Unit report. “This shows that it is not a shortage of money, but a shortage of competent and honest management that dooms many babies,” he said.
“I will continue to campaign for full accountability for the management disaster at Tembisa Hospital, which needs to prioritise patients, not greedy thieves and incapable people,” he said.