No money for 983 community service nurses to get posts in Gauteng hospitals

983 nurses at Gauteng public hospitals who completed their community service at the end of last year have not been appointed as promised to permanent posts this year because of budget cuts.

This shocking information was disclosed today at a meeting of the Gauteng Legislature’s Health Committee.

According to a Gauteng Health Department official, the provincial budget was cut by R4 billion last year, and R1.2 billion in this year’s budget. He said that the Department is now engaging with Provincial Treasury to try and get the funds to employ the nurses.

I am appalled that these nurses are not being employed immediately as they are desperately needed to treat the surge of Covid-19 patients that are overwhelming our hospitals.

There is no excuse for this poor planning and irrational budget cut as community service nurses are supposed to be given posts once they complete their service.

Gauteng Premier David Makhura needs to intervene urgently to ensure that funds are found to employ these nurses.

500 emergency patients diverted every month from Gauteng hospitals

About 500 ambulances with emergency patients are diverted every month from public hospitals in Gauteng that are too full to accept them, raising the risk of lives lost due to excessive delays.

This was revealed at a presentation by Gauteng Emergency Management Services (EMS) to the Gauteng Legislature’s Health Committee on Friday last week.

There were 5347 diversions of ambulances from January to October this year, so patients have to be taken to a hospital that is further away, often adding a number of hours before critically ill or injured patents receive treatment.

The hospital with the most diversions is Thelle Mogoerane Hospital in Vosloorus which has a 4-hour diversion virtually every day. Other hospitals with more than 15 diversions a month in the last 3 months, which means they turned away ambulances every second day, include the following:

• Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital (CHBH)

• Jubilee Hospital

• Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg (CMJH)

• George Mukhari Hospital

• Far East Rand Hospital

• Steve Biko Hospital

• Tambo Memorial Hospital

• Leratong Hospital

• Tembisa Hospital

• Sebokeng Hospital

• Helen Joseph Hospital

• Kalafong Hospital

• Bheki Mlangeni Hospital

Last month (October), 585 patients were diverted, including 245 Priority 1 patients, 175 maternity and pre-term labour, paediatric patients, 131 adult ICU (Intensive Care Unit), 98 psychiatric and 54 neonatal patients.

A case study is given of a patient who died on 28 May 2017 because 5 hospitals (CMJH, CHBH, Helen Joseph, Tembisa and Steve Biko) were all on diversion for a patient with a stab wound who needed to be transferred from Edenvale Hospital. The call was received at 11.10 am, but only George Mukhari Hospital in Garankuwa was prepared to accept the patient even though it is a 90-minute drive for over 100 km. A helicopter was called which landed at Edenvale at 13.54, but the patient was reported dead at 14.07 pm almost 3 hours after the first callout. This patient could have survived if taken to CMJH which is only 15 kilometres away from Edenvale.

Fewer ambulances are available to respond to emergencies because they get diverted to distant hospitals.

Patients lying on the floor or in the corridors are a common sight in overcrowded hospital casualty departments. The casualty crisis needs to be fixed urgently by hiring more staff and expanding facilities to accommodate more beds.

Gauteng Health underspends R559m on capital assets

by Jack Bloom MPL – DA Gauteng Shadow Health MEC

The Gauteng Health Department failed to spend a whopping R559 million on capital assets in the last financial year which ended on 31 March, despite a huge need for new machinery and hospital buildings which are falling apart.

This was revealed at a meeting of the Gauteng Legislature’s Health Committee last week on Friday.

According to the Department’s Fourth Quarter report which covers the January to March 2018 period, only R1.564 billion (73%) was spent out of a total R2.123 billion budget for capital assets.

R443 million was underspent for machinery and equipment, and R115 million of the capital budget was not spent on buildings and other fixed structures.

The Department’s chronic inability to spend on capital assets continues in this financial year with a freeze on all new building projects.

This means that urgently needed projects like extra wards at the Edenvale and Tembisa hospitals and new hospitals in Kempton Park, Daveyton and Soshanguve will be further delayed.

Because of overspending in other areas, the overall underspend for the 2017/18 financial year was R179 million.

This highlights poor financial management in a Department that has a deep budget hole which leads to suppliers not paid on time and deteriorating health services.