The unbudgeted payment of Occupation Specific Dispensation (OSD) and HROPT for health workers by the Department of Health in the Eastern Cape has had life threatening consequences and the possibility that lives have already been lost, are now being investigated.

After the lack of ambulance services and x-ray film at the Grey Hospital in King William’s Town was brought to my attention, I made contact with the new HOD, Dr. Siva Pillay, and informed him about the crisis and he promised to investigate.

This morning I personally went to Grey Hospital to verify the information. Great was my surprise to find a woman who had been left on a trolley in a small room since yesterday, waiting to be transported to Bhisho hospital, which is barely 5 kilometres away. I also learned that the hospital was out of x-ray film and injuries can only be checked on a computer, not on hard-copy print-outs.

An official from the Department of Health confirmed that they have a challenges with the ambulance service. While additional ambulances have been ordered to beef up the fleet, the situation will only be normalised in three to four months from now, after the beginning of the new financial year.

This is totally unacceptable and because of unbudgeted expenditure, life threatening situations occur sporadically across the province. The death of a patient at Grey Hospital yesterday, (subs: Tues, 2 March) is now being investigated to establish whether it can be linked to the abnormal shortages and lack of service.

The DA urges the Premier and MEC for Health to urgently address this problem. The province cannot continue without basic emergency medical services for another four months. The DA suggests that the assistance of the private sector and Defence Force be called in to assist in alleviating the pressure.

For further information, please contact Pine Pienaar, MPL on 082 446 1888

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