Khayelitsha, 18th July 2018 – Today members of the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) in Western Cape are holding a picket at Khayelitsha District Hospital to highlight the ongoing crisis facing the facility and demand urgent intervention by the provincial health department.
Recent monitoring by TAC branches at the hospital and numerous further complaints over the last two months present a bleak picture of overcrowding, shortages of staff, poor staff attitude and neglect of patients, a shortage of beds, and people forced to sleep on the floors of a hospital full to capacity.
“Patients are sleeping on the floor of the hospital because there simply aren’t enough beds,” says Vuyani Macotha, TAC Western Cape Provincial Chairperson. “There are not enough beds for the population of Khayelitsha let alone the overflow of patients from other districts. The hospital was built to handle 400,000 people, but it is widely thought that the population of Khayelitsha is closer to 2 million.”
“Sleeping on the floor is only part of the mistreatment that patients may get at KDH, but it is emblematic of a growing problem: inattentive and inadequate care on behalf of hospital staff and management,” added Macotha. “Night shift nurses are ignoring their patients or treating them poorly. There are countless cases of nurses being on their computer instead of taking care of patients or of them downright neglecting them. One community member informed TAC that their relative had been wearing the same adult diaper for 24 hours.”
“In addition to instances of staff ignoring patients, reports can be found of people unable to find staff in moments of emergency, such as TAC member Phumeza Runeyi who could not locate any member staff after her brother had been stabbed.”
Further complaints have been raised after patients claim they have been discriminated against for reasons ranging from having shingles to their gender. All of these problems are exacerbated during the night shift. Many people report coming in and being forced to wait or sleep in the foyer until the day shift workers arrive to be seen.
“The question becomes what are these night shift nurses doing and where are the night managers to whom mistreated patients can file complaints?” asks Macotha. “What is particularly appalling is the responses that can be seen on videos trending of nurses saying they are not going to be reprimanded for their actions, and so they are not worried about these reports. Where is the accountability?”
On 23 April 2018, TAC Western Cape met with the CEO of the hospital and District Manager issuing a list of demands to: reduce waiting times; improve staff attitudes and accountability; increase bed capacity; address the shortage of doctors and nurses; ensure a proper complaints system; and to establish a permanent clinic committee and a strong hospital board that seeks to serve the needs of public healthcare users.
During the meeting the hospital management outlined expansion plans including the addition of more beds and a new wing to create more space, however as of yet no changes have been seen. Further, the issues relating to shortages of staff, neglect and poor attitudes were not addressed.
“This Mandela day we are picketing against the poor treatment of the patients at Khayelitsha District Hospital. We are doing so in the memory of Mandela, who supported integrity, honour, patient’s rights and patients dignity. The occurrences at KDH are not what Mandela stood for, so we will stand up against them. Join us this Mandela Day to protest on behalf of patients!”
TAC will continue to monitor the situation at Khayelitsha District Hospital until all patients receive quality healthcare services.
For further information contact:
Vuyani Macotha – TAC Western Cape Provincial Chairperson 081 887 8130
Mary-Jane Matsolo – TAC Western Cape Provincial Manager 079 802 2686
Sit in details:
Date: 18 July 2018
Time: 15h00 -19h00
Venue: Khayelitsha District Hospital – 08 Mzala Street, Makhaya (opposite home affairs)