A report by the Portfolio Committee on Health on the Port Elizabeth Hospital was debated during the legislature’s recent sitting.
Below is an extract of the speech by John Cupido, Shadow MEC for Health:
As we know the whole reason the portfolio committee went out to meet with the various stakeholders is because three doctors, the clinical heads of the three hospitals contained within the PE Hospital Complex, were brave enough to stand up for what is right for the oath that they took to put people first.
These doctors had voiced their concerns with the Eastern Cape Department of Health, the MEC of Health, the Premier of the Eastern Cape and finally the National Minister of Health.
Well, let me tell you, not one of them responded or attempted to address the doctor’s concerns. Notice of receipt of letters are not responses.
These doctors then took the only route that they could and took their concerns to the public via the media. The doctors were fully aware that they were going against department policy, they were fully aware that they could very well lose their jobs, yet, they still went ahead.
To any reasonable person in this world, when faced with the risk of losing your job in today’s economy, means that something is very wrong with what is happening at the PE Hospital Complex.
Instead of taking note of the concerns raised by the doctors and trying to resolve them both the Department and the MEC slammed the doctors for going to the media and making public the failures of the Eastern Cape Department of Health.
The department immediately requested these brave doctors, who clearly have the community at heart, to motivate why they should not be suspended and disciplinary charges laid against them.
Why would they still reprimand the doctors if their actions are legally covered by the Protected Disclosures Act (26 of 2000) better known as the whistleblowers act?
It is my opinion that the Department knew if they allowed these doctors to get away with this they would open the floodgates for doctors and nurses across the Province to expose the failures of healthcare in the Eastern Cape.
The reality is that the issues contained within the PE Hospital Complex are not unique to that complex alone, they are widespread across this Province.
In fact, the Department is struggling to pay the existing doctors, nurses and other important clinical staff as it is. Yet, this House saw it fit to decrease the Health budget for a second year in a row.
During the budget debates when I stood up here and stated that the DA cannot support a financially deficient budget, all the other parties laughed and pushed it through.
Now, less than two months later, I receive a response by the MEC to a parliamentary question of mine where he states that with the current financial difficulties, the department is not able to provide proper healthcare.
Healthcare in this Province needs to be completely re-looked at, the budget needs to be boosted by R3 billion at least and we need to more aggressively start filling the vacancies of the essential clinical staff.
There are people dying out there because in this House of Parliament, the ANC does not have the political will to make things better.