Bara hospital battles Covid-19 with staff shortages and inferior PPE

The Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital is currently treating 280 Covid-19 patients, the highest number in Gauteng, but is short of staff, and management is concerned that some personal protective equipment (PPE) is substandard.

This was revealed yesterday in a presentation by the hospital to the Gauteng Legislature’s Health Committee.

The hospital has 7 132 approved posts but 846 (12%) are currently vacant, including 8 out of 19 management posts (42%) and 167 out of 886 administration posts (20%). They are also short of 280 nurses and 71 doctors. This shortage is worsened by the high number of staff off sick because of Covid-19.

More staff is being hired, but according to the presentation “the funds allocated do not meet 50% of what was initially requested”, and the hospital “is trying to do more with less amidst Covid-19 infections amongst staff.”

Problems with PPE for staff include the following:

  • non-availability of stock from contracted suppliers;
  • sub-standard quality; and
  • long lead times of delivery.

This shows how the poor choice of PPE suppliers, which is probably because of corruption, has put the lives of hospital staff at risk.

Contractors are now rushing to complete 500 extra beds at Baragwanath hospital in addition to the 480 beds designated for Covid-19 patients out of 2680 total beds. But these beds will require staff that have not yet been hired by the hospital.

Other public hospitals in Gauteng face similar challenges. The reality is that years of neglect and poor staffing in our hospitals is hindering the fight to save as many lives as possible from the Covid-19 pandemic.