In July, Gauteng Premier David Makhura promised that his government would prioritise public health care, pledging to visit public hospitals each week as part of his mission to urgently fix the ailing health system. But, says a Sunday Independent report, on a visit with Makhura to Soweto’s Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, one of the biggest training hospitals on the continent, they found that services were a mixed bag.
The staff at Bara were able to manage the long queues which were at one stage the source of unhappiness from many patients. File registration moved along quickly and smoothly. Patients waited about 30 minutes before they were registered. At casualty it took longer, about 45 minutes to an hour, before a patient could be seen by a doctor or allocated to a ward.
But, the report says, Christina Zimba, 52, had nothing but contempt for the staff at Bara. Disdain and “hell” at the hands of health-care workers is how she described her four days at the hospital. Zimba had been rushed by ambulance to Bara on Sunday night from Lenasia South Hospital after allegedly being battered by her husband. She said she sat on the hospital bench for more than four hours without receiving any attention from the nursing staff on duty.
The report says responding to a query on the treatment meted out to Zimba, Chris Hani Baragwanath’s spokesperson Nkosiyethu Mazibuko confirmed that the hospital was aware of her complaint. “A redress meeting was held with her, where she made a number of allegations that are being investigated. Unfortunately, we can’t divulge much of the information due to patient doctor confidentiality,” said Mazibuko.
The report says amid the daily operations of the hospital, numerous complaints could be heard about the long waiting time. At the other end of the hospital, the pharmacy line seemed to move at a snail’s pace, with Ntombi Tshabalala saying one should always expect to wait for close to two hours before collecting your medication.
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