Health MEC’s inaction costs patients their limbs

Health MEC’s inaction costs patients their limbs

Patients have been irrevocably maimed, their limbs amputated, and lives forever changed, because of Health MEC Nomakhosazana Meth’s failure to implement a directive from the Provincial Legislature to pay suppliers of critical medical equipment at Livingstone Hospital.

The Democratic Alliance has been informed that at least three people needed their limbs amputated due to complications from postponed surgeries requiring critical medical equipment.

We will write to the Minister of Health, Joe Phaahla, and request that he place the Department of Health under administration in terms of Section 100 of the Constitution, as MEC Meth’s actions have shown she does not care for the lives of the people she is meant to serve.

The Department of Health must be placed under administration before more hospitals are brought to their knees.

The consequences of non-payment of suppliers are dire and have had a terrible ripple effect on the functionality of Livingstone Hospital.

Aside from the amputations, there are now 91 orthopaedic patients waiting for critical surgeries, of which at least 35 patients are experiencing severe complications such as deep pressure sores, pneumonia and permanent impairment.

The longer surgeries are delayed, the more complicated they become and the longer the recovery period will be.

Doctors are desperately trying to address the backlog but they do not have the implants required for the surgeries. They are told by the Department that they should source the equipment they need, but this is not within their ambit. Supply chain management is the responsibility of the Department of Health and not surgeons.

The backlog in surgeries is further exacerbated by the fact that only five out of eight operating theatres are being used due to shortages of medical personnel.

This means that orthopaedic wards cannot absorb more patients, which puts huge pressure on casualty wards as well as soft services such as kitchen and laundry services.

MEC Meth and her Head of Department, amongst others, have already been referred to the National Prosecuting Authority for grossly mismanaging the Health budget with an ill-conceived and failed medico-legal strategy to manage medico-legal claims against the department.

However, they continue to willfully ignore a directive from the Legislature to settle debts to prevent further litigation both by the medical suppliers and by patients at Livingstone Hospital, which is desperately short-staffed and underfunded.

The Democratic Alliance will continue to fight for our hospitals to receive adequate budgets and medical personnel so that the right of patients to adequate and timeous medical care is protected.