What is the Future of Sizwe TB Hospital?

Today is World TB day on which we should reflect on what should be done to combat this scourge in our country, where 15 000 cases of drug-resistant TB are diagnosed each year but only about half are treated.

While Gauteng has achieved a commendable TB cure rate of over 80%, there is a big question surrounding the future of the Sizwe Tropical Diseases Hospital in Sandringham, Johannesburg which is the only specialized TB hospital in Gauteng  for treating drug-resistant TB cases.

According to a written reply by Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature, only 150 out of 266 beds are currently used at this hospital.

According to the MEC: “The number of admissions dropped due to the national decentralization policy where Multi-Drug Resistant TB (MDR-TB) patients can now be initiated on treatment at decentralized sites near their homes”.

The hospital is short of 8 Professional Nurses, 4 Staff Nurses and 10 Assistant Nurses.

The MEC says that there are no plans to close this hospital in view of the extensive Rietfontein housing and commercial development nearby.

But residents have been told by the Rietfontein developers at one meeting that the Sizwe hospital will be closed.

The Sizwe Hospital is a national monument and has an important role to play in combating TB in Gauteng, as well as treating MDR-TB cases from neighbouring provinces.

The Gauteng a Health Department needs to assure us about the future of this hospital in treating specialised TB cases.


Media enquiries:

Jack Bloom MPL

DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health

082 333 4222

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Gauteng Hospitals Owe R2.9 million on Over-priced Diesel

Gauteng hospitals owe R2.9 million to companies that supply diesel for boilers, tractors and back-up generators.

This is revealed in a written reply by Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature.Jack Blom DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health

Companies Owed

The Gauteng Health Department buys diesel from a number of companies in terms of a contract by National Treasury.

The following companies are owed money:

  • Kiarah Chemicals cc                     R936 835
  • One Line Project Solutions cc          R491 150
  • Kebaratile General Trading             R29 227
  • Afric Oil Pty Ltd                             R373 219
  • General Energy Systems Pty Ltd     R1 065 358


I am aware of cases where late supply of diesel has led to generators failing after power cuts, and boilers with no steam to provide heat and sterilise surgical instruments.

Discounted Rates

I am also concerned that the department pays R12.38 per litre of diesel, which is a bit more than you would pay at a local garage.

Surely a discount rate could have been achieved as part of the diesel tender?

This is yet another example where the department is getting poor value for money and there are supply disruptions because of non-payment.

The department should pay its bills and ensure a reliable diesel supply for hospitals.


Media enquiries:

Jack Bloom MPL

DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health

082 333 4222

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Two Year Delay in Re-opening Theatres at Pretoria West Hospital

Jack Bloom DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health
Jack Bloom DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health

The re-opening of operating theatres at the Pretoria West Hospital has been delayed by more than two years because of a slow air-conditioning contractor.

This is revealed in a written reply by Infrastructure Development MEC Nandi Mayathula-Khoza to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature.

The refurbishment started on 12 October 2012 and was supposed to be completed on 1 February 2013.

Late Installation

But according to Mayathula-Khoza, Cool Breeze Air-conditioning and Refrigeration started the installation late and a strained relationship between them and a sub-contractor also contributed to the delay.

The handover of the project will be later this month, but the theatres won’t be operational for several more months as testing and deep cleaning needs to be done.

Warning letters were sent to the contractor on 28 October 2014 and 24 November 2014. They are currently placed on terms and incurring penalties of R2846 per day.

R4.5 million has so far been spent on this project, and it is expected that another R1.132 million will be spent to complete it.

It is outrageous that a 5 month project has taken more than two and a half years, during which time no surgery could be performed at the hospital and patients had to be transferred elsewhere for operations.

Infrastructure Development Department needs a shake-up

It is yet another example of the department’s abysmal incompetence that includes a poor choice of contractor and a lack of project management to avoid delays.

For instance, why was the first warning letter only sent in October 2014 when the project was supposed to be finished 20 months earlier?

Meanwhile, patients have suffered because surgery could not be done at the hospital.

The Infrastructure Development Department needs a management shake-up to ensure that hospital projects are completed expeditiously.


Media enquiries:

Jack Bloom MPL

DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health

082 333 4222

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1789 Patients Wait for Cataract Ops at Bara Hospital

1789 patients wait for up to 18 months for a cataract operation at the St John’s Eye Clinic at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital.

This was disclosed yesterday by Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu in a reply to my questions at a sitting of the Gauteng Legislature.

The long waiting list has been worsened by 526 cataract operations that were cancelled or deferred last year.

According to Mahlangu, the cancellations were mostly due to patient factors such as ill-health or lack of consent, but I have heard many stories of cancellations due to equipment failure and staff shortage.

For instance, on 20 January this year, patients with scheduled operations were told to go home because machinery was not working.

It was also reported last year that there were 19 vacancies out of 40 positions.

The St John’s Eye Clinic has the longest waiting time for cataracts in Gauteng.

This is inhumane and an abuse of the elderly which should not be allowed to continue.

We need special measures to improve the situation there as soon as possible, such as the extension of operating hours over weekends, and a partnership with the private health sector.


Media enquiries:

Jack Bloom MPL

DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health

082 333 4222

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R138 million Fees Owed to Closed Gauteng Private Wards

R138 million in patient fees is owed to the Gauteng Health Department from the Folateng private wards that have now been closed.Bloom-Jack1-240x300

This is disclosed in a written reply by Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature.

According to Mahlangu, private medical aids owe R106 million of the total amount owing for patient fees.

After operating for more than 10 years, the Folateng wards at the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg, Helen Joseph and Sebokeng hospitals have been integrated into the main hospital for the use of public patients.

These wards were supposed to make money from private patients in order to subsidise public patients, but have lost R77 million in the last three years, mainly because of poor administration.

They were closed after instructions by National Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi.

The Folateng fiasco has been an expensive mistake. My estimate is that they lost more than R500 million in total since inception, including the cost of expensive building alterations.

The high level of non-collection from private medical aids shows the general incompetence in running Folateng.

I am pleased that these wards have been closed, but the outstanding money must be collected as soon as possible.


Media enquiries:

Jack Bloom MPL

DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health

082 333 4222


Broken Chiller at Joburg Hospital Hits Surgery

A broken Chiller at the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Hospital has not been repaired for more than a year, which means there is no back-up to cool operating theatres if any of the other four Chillers breaks down.

This is revealed in a written reply by Gauteng Infrastructure Development MEC Nandi Mayathula-Khoza to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature.

According to Mayathula-Khoza “the hospital is operating without any standby chiller. If any of the four chillers currently running fail, temperatures will rise again, which may lead to the postponement of theatre operations.”

Chiller number 1 has been broken since December 2013 when the compressor developed a leakage and the motor needed to be replaced. The compressor was sent to various places for repair but they failed. The chiller has now been condemned as replacement parts would cost more than R2.5 million.

Chiller number 4 failed in January this year because of a leakage of refrigerant gas and was only repaired in early March because the previous contractor failed to do the repair and had to be replaced.

A number of operations had to be cancelled for three weeks because of the lack of a back-up chiller to keep temperatures down in the theatres.

It is unacceptable that surgery at this flagship hospital is disrupted because of broken equipment. A working back-up chiller should be installed as soon as possible to ensure that theatres are always properly cooled.


Media enquiries:

Jack Bloom MPL

DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health

082 333 4222

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DA Welcomes Sacking of Health Official

I welcome the Gauteng Health Department’s dismissal of Mr Abey Marokoane, Chief Director of Risk Management and Internal Control, who was suspended in December last year for alleged corruption concerning hospital security contracts.Bloom-Jack1-240x300

Marokoane was suspended after he was arrested on November 27 last year and released on bail after appearing in the Specialised Commercial Crimes Court in Pretoria the next day.

According to department spokesman Prince Hamnca he was fired for failing to disclose that he was facing charges of fraud and money laundering. He was not fired on grounds of fraud as this is a separate process that will be determined in court.

I am pleased that the department has acted swiftly in this case, unlike other cases where officials are suspended with pay for long periods of time.

For instance, we have still not been told why the department’s Chief Financial Officer Ndoda Biyela.was suspended in August last year, and why his case has taken so long to finalise. Another case that has dragged on is that of Dr James Mwesigwa, who was suspended on November 2013 after he was accused of taking the brains and heart of a dead woman out of the Diepkloof mortuary in a bucket.

I suspect that more officials may be implicated in corruption in the award of hospital security contracts worth R265 million.

Yesterday I submitted documents to the Auditor General that show that the most expensive security company was chosen for 6 hospitals, costing an extra R16.2 million for the two-year contracts.

There is a lot of rot in this department that needs to be cleaned out as soon as possible,


Media enquiries:

Jack Bloom MPL

DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health

082 333 4222


Gauteng health wastes R16m on security contracts

The Gauteng Health Department has wasted R16.2 million by choosing the most expensive security contract for 6 hospitals.

This is revealed in documents I have obtained through an application under the Promotion of Access to Information Act.

I asked for the prices given by all the competing bidders for all 37 hospitals in Gauteng, but have so far only received for 6 hospitals.

The shocking thing is that the most expensive security company was chosen for each of these hospitals.

The worst case is that of Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital, where Mabotwane Security Services was chosen over Guard 4 Sure Security Services, despite being R6.2 million more expensive for a two-year contract.

The department now pays R25.6 million each year to guard this hospital Instead of paying R22.5 million for the cheapest quote.

The other hospitals are as follows:

  • Helen Joseph Hospital – Potlako got the contract for R13.3m a year, R1.6m more than Tshireletso’s R11.7m bid.
  • Chris Hani Baragwanath – Mafoko got the contract for R22m a year, R1m more than Guard 4 Sure at R21m.
  • Tembisa Hospital – Tshireletso won for R6.1m a year, R900 000 more than Guard 4 Sure’s R5.2m bid.
  • Steve Biko Academic – Born to Protect won for R15.5m per year, R800 000 more than R14.7m by Guard 4 Sure.
  • George Mukhari Hospital – Vimba won for R12.5m per year, which is R700 000 more than R11.8m by Guard 4 Sure.

I am puzzled that Guard 4 Sure was the cheapest quote for five out of the six hospitals, but was only awarded one contract.

According to the Department “all contracts were awarded to different sites regardless of price” and the reason given elsewhere for not giving to the cheapest contractor is that the company was “awarded another site”.

This is very poor practice that contravenes treasury regulations concerning value for money.

It is further evidence that there was possible corruption in awarding these contracts. Last year, Mr Abey Marokoane, Chief Director of Risk Management and Internal Control, was suspended for alleged corruption concerning hospital security contracts.

I estimate that more than R50 million has probably been overspent on the two-year contracts for all 37 hospitals in Gauteng by not choosing the cheapest contract.

This is money that could have been spent to provide better care in our overstressed hospitals, but is instead blown carelessly away on over-priced security contracts.

I have referred this to the Auditor-General for further investigation.


Media enquiries:

Jack Bloom MPL

DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health

082 333 4222

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Unacceptable 7 year wait for hip replacement at Bara hospital

I am shocked at the reported case of a man who was informed that he would have to wait 7 years for a hip operation at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital.

Mr Aubrey Moerane (53) was informed in a letter from Dr Frey, Head of Arthroplasty, that there is a joint replacement waiting list of 1200 people, and that he could only be treated in November 2021.

This is utterly unacceptable. The usual waiting period at other hospitals is up to three years, which is also bad, but not as ridiculous as asking a patient to endure pain for 7 years.

I am also disturbed that Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu did not disclose this long waiting time for hip operations in a written reply last year to my questions on surgery at the hospital. According to the reply, there were only 220 Orthopaedic patients who waited 10 months for surgery. Why was the true situation withheld from me?

According to Mahlangu, 3176 patients at Bara Hospital wait for operations, of which 2548 are for cataracts.

More than 300 operations were deferred last year at Bara mostly due to a lack of Intensive Care Unit  beds, and limited theatre and surgeon time.

Special measures are needed to cut down the huge backlog. Operating hours should be extended, including weekends, and the private health sector should be contracted in as well.

Better maintenance of equipment would also help prevent frequent cancellation of surgery due to equipment breakdowns.


Media enquiries:

Jack Bloom MPL

DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health

082 333 4222

Doctors protest alleged body parts stealer at Diepkloof mortuary

Doctors at the Diepkloof government mortuary in Soweto stopped work for two days this week in protest against the re-instatement of a doctor accused of stealing body parts.


Dr James Mwesigwa was suspended on November 2013 after he was accused of trying to take the brains and heart of a dead woman out of the mortuary in a bucket.


A criminal charge was laid with the police, but the case has yet to come to trial and the Gauteng Health Department’s disciplinary case against him has been hit by delays.


Mwesigwa pushed for a pre-disciplinary arbitration and was reinstated at the mortuary on Monday this week.


Doctors and other staff were appalled and stopped work, not releasing bodies to family members.


The impasse was resolved after the department transferred Mwesigwa to head office, and it appears that his disciplinary case will continue.


I am outraged that the department has taken so long with this sensitive case.


Dr Mwesigwa has received more than R1 million while being suspended on full pay for 16 months.


Desecrating the dead is a very serious matter, and Mwesigwa should not have been allowed to return to the mortuary unless he was found innocent.


This case must be speeded up and extra controls put in to prevent the stealing of body parts from state mortuaries.


Media enquiries:

Jack Bloom MPL

DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health

082 333 4222