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.

Gauteng Short Of 574 Doctors And 1 209 Nurses

Gauteng State Hospitals Short

Gauteng state hospitals are short of 574 doctors and 1 209 nurses, but Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu says “there is no effect on patient care as the vacant posts are replaced immediately through walk-in applications and the annual block advertisement.”

This is according to a written reply by Mahlangu to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature.

According to Mahlangu “the majority of posts are vacant due to a process of natural attrition. Some positions are in the process of being filled.”

Scare Skills Required

She also says that “in health professional categories i.e. pharmacist, therapist and certain medical and nursing disciplines, scarce skills are required and they are not readily available for appointment in the Public Sector, thus the extended delay in filling these positions.”

The largest vacancies among doctors are the following:

  • Medical Officer Grade 1 – 151
  • Registrar (Medical) – 110
  • Medical Officer (Community Service) – 78
  • Medical Specialist Grade 1 – 60
  • Medical Officer (Intern) – 58

It is also worrying that there are 17 clinical unit and department head vacancies.

Large Vacancies

The largest vacancies among nurses are as follows:

  • Nursing Assistant Grade 1 – 184
  • Professional Nurse Grade 1 – 340
  • Professional Nurse Speciality Nursing – 141
  • Clinical Nurse Primary Health Care – 88

There are at present 5 125 doctors and 27 873 nurses in Gauteng state hospitals, but many in the highly skilled categories are close to retirement.

MEC Mahlangu should not be complacent as the shortages do affect the quality of patient care and training needs to be stepped up, particularly in specialist areas.


Media enquiries:

Jack Bloom MPL

DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health

082 333 4222

[Image source]

Thelle Mogoerane Hospital Short Of 382 Staff

The Thelle Mogoerane Hospital in Vosloorus (formerly New Natalspruit) is struggling to operate with a shortage of 382 staff.

This information was revealed by Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu in response to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature.

So far this year 86 staff members have left the hospital, including 42 resignations.

According to Mahlangu, staff were lost because of the workload and public transport problems.

The hospital has a total staff of 1683, so more than one in five posts is vacant.

Worse affected is the nursing department, with 198 vacancies, followed by administration with 87‚ allied with 57‚ and 46 vacancies for doctors.

This is putting tremendous strain on the remaining staff, which negatively affects patient care.

Patients wait for 1 hour and 26 minutes at the Accident and Emergency (General) Department.

Bed occupancy is generally high, including 104% in the medical wards and 92% at the surgical and step-down wards.

This hospital has been plagued by problems since it was opened in in the new premises in August last year.

Management needs to be improved to attract new staff to this hospital which urgently needs to fill all its vacancies.


Media enquiries:

Jack Bloom MPL

DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health

082 333 4222

[Image source]