Deafening silence on reopening of Charlotte Maxeke Hospital despite patients’ suffering

The Democratic Alliance is most concerned at the deafening silence from both national and provincial government to the pleas to speedily reopen all sections of the fire-damaged Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Hospital.

Lives are at risk as thousands of patients have lost access to specialist services including heart, cancer, mental health, and respiratory diseases.

Despite promises that the Accident and Emergency Unit would reopen this month, patients are still redirected mostly to the casualty at Helen Joseph Hospital which cannot cope with the extra patients who spend days sitting in chairs before being admitted to a ward.

Mental patients are also suffering with the loss of 40 beds in the hospital’s psychiatric unit.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has not responded to the open letter that Professor Adam Mahomed, the hospital’s Head of Internal Medicine, sent to him in December last year concerning this “national crisis” which infringes the constitutional right to health care.

Another disappointment is that Gauteng Health MEC Nomathemba Mokgethi has failed to give a clear timeline for the reopening of all services at the hospital.

The continuing closure is a terrible blow to health services in Gauteng. I fear that many cancer and heart patients in particular are dying, and the backlogs for operations are growing alarmingly.

National treasury should make extra funds urgently available for this hospital which treats patients from other provinces as well.

I have little faith, however, that the dysfunctional Gauteng Infrastructure Development Department has the expertise to speedily repair the hospital.

The best way forward would be a private/public partnership to ensure that money is properly spent so that all patient services are restored as soon as possible.