Loadshedding deepening crises at EC hospitals

Issued by Jane Cowley, MPL
Shadow MEC for Health

The provincial government needs to put firm plans in place to take Eastern Cape hospitals off the grid. The ongoing rolling blackouts across the country are deepening the crises at hospitals, which are struggling to keep lifesaving equipment running during power outages.

Cash-strapped hospitals, already battling to pay suppliers for basics such as food and laundry services, not to mention lifesaving equipment and oxygen, are now having to divert millions of rands to pay for diesel to keep their generators running.

In the DA-led Western Cape, municipalities are generating their own power, reducing the effects of loadshedding on their communities.

Furthermore, businesses, homes and government departments have been incentivised to use alternative energy sources such as solar power, freeing up power for key facilities such as hospitals.

I will write to the MEC for Health, Nomakosazana Meth, to establish whether an application has been made to the national government to exempt our district, provincial and tertiary hospitals from scheduled loadshedding.

If this has not been done, I will further enquire as to whether an application has been made to the Provincial or National Treasury for extra funding to purchase fuel for hospital generators.

An industrial-sized generator, which would be the absolute minimum required to run a hospital’s emergency room, Intensive Care Unit and theatres, requires approximately 90 litres of fuel per hour to run.

Fuel currently costs about R25 per litre. During Stage Five loadshedding, the power is off for, on average, seven and a half hours per day. Multiply this by 90 litres per hour, and then again by R25 per litre, and you are looking at R16 875 per day, or R118 125 per week.

In one month, the cost of running one industrial generator under Stage Five loadshedding will cost R506 250. More than half a million rand!

Hospitals are required to run a 24-hour service, as accidents and illness do not keep office hours.

How many lives have already been lost because hospitals simply cannot afford to keep lights and emergency equipment working?

Some hospitals have faulty generators which have not been replaced due to budget constraints. What has been the cost of this in human lives?

The DA will continue to fight for our hospitals to be adequately resourced, so that the people of this province can get the healthcare they are entitled to.