Why are there inadequate beds for Covid-19 in Tshwane?

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize has suggested that Covid-19 patients at the overcrowded Steve Biko Hospital in Tshwane can be sent to the NASREC field hospital in the south of Johannesburg.

This highlights the dismal failure to complete the new beds for Covid-19 cases in the Tshwane district that Premier David Makhura promised last year.

Instead of new beds at central hospitals like Kalafong and Mamelodi, the plan was to have 300 high care beds at Jubilee Hospital, 300 high care beds at George Mukhari Hospital, and 150 beds at the Bronkhorstspruit Hospital.

The beds at Jubilee and George Mukhari were supposed to be completed by 30 November last year, and those at Bronkhorstspruit by 15 December.

The reality is that only 95 of the 300 beds at Jubilee have the staff and equipment for Covid-19 patients, none of the extra beds at George Mukhari can be used because of staff and equipment shortages, and no beds are ready at Bronkhorstspruit.

This is why emergency tents had to be erected in the parking lot of Steve Biko Hospital.

Across the province 1100 bed spaces constructed using Alternative Building Technology still have to be delivered. This is according to a report by the Gauteng Health Department which also identified staffing as a major bottleneck and a shortage of health furniture.

The Tshwane district has been particularly hard hit by the second wave of Covid-19 infections and accountability is needed for the poor preparation to treat local patients who should not have to be sent to beds in another city.