HOSPITAL HORROR: ’Patients die while waiting!’

MEC Maruping Lekwene said they will be buying more ambulances.  Photo  by Joseph Mokoaledi
MEC Maruping Lekwene said they will be buying more ambulances. Photo by Joseph Mokoaledi

NORTHERN Cape Health MEC Maruping Lekwene has admitted that his department faces critical challenges.

He was responding to a high number of complaints about clinics, hospitals and emergency services across the province.

The department has been accused of failing to fulfil its responsibilities by residents.

They said emergency services had collapsed and patients died while waiting for ambulances.

A Warrenton resident, Themba Mgwevu, said they had been struggling for years.

“They downgraded Warrenton Hospital to a clinic, and now the nearest hospital is 72km away in Kimberley. If there’s an emergency, you have to make a plan to get private transport,” he said.

In 2020, residents peacefully marched to the municipal offices to demand better services.

“We got a response from Premier Zamani Saul, who visited us about three times, but things have just continued getting worse,” said Mgwevu.

A 37-year-old mother said some pregnant women gave birth at home or on their way to the hospital.

“I’m still traumatised from seeing my younger sister giving birth on our way to hospital. I had to assist her in the presence of a man we hired to drive us.”

Lekwene said it was important to manage the challenges so the healthcare system did not collapse.

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“There was a process of reclassification of clinics. We had to change hours from 8am to 4pm, not 24 hours a day. We failed to communicate with the community. We have increased staff at Warrenton Clinic but at some clinics we are short-staffed,” he said.

Lekwene said most ambulances were broken and some involved in accidents.

“We have committed to buying 20 vehicles,” he said.

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