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Photo: File

Here’s how long patients wait to get assistance at Gauteng hospitals

Most of these hospitals service poor communities who cannot afford the private option.

essential services lockdown coronavirus

Photo: File

It is daunting to even consider a visit to the hospital in South Africa. Mounting problems faced by our healthcare system makes a day at the hospital a sick and tiring experience. However, fewer provinces have it as bad as Gauteng hospitals do.

One of the key changes Gauteng Premier, David Makhura, is tasked with bringing forth is the improvement of the province’s public healthcare system.

Problems faced by hospitals in Gauteng

It is no exaggeration that hundreds of patients are forced to wait hours on end to receive medical attention. The reasons for this vary, based on each hospital’s limitations.

Some struggle with major staff shortages, while others simply do not have adequate resources to accommodate a certain number of patients at a time.

The biggest problem, according to the DA’s Jack Bloom, is the provincial health department’s failure to shorten waiting times for all classes of patients.

Bloom has been critical of Makhura’s negligence of the real situation faced by many Gauteng hospitals.

In response to Makhura’s State of the Province Address (SOPA), he noted that the Premier only recognised four hospitals that need special intervention.

The worst performing Gauteng hospitals

According to Bloom, this number is ignorantly lower than it should be. He revealed that these are the hospitals that require immediate intervention:

  • Mamelodi Hospital
  • Sebokeng Hospital
  • Bheki Mlangeni Hospital
  • Jubilee District Hospital
  • Thelle Mogoerane Hospital
  • George Mukhari Hospital
  • Tambo Memorial Hospital
  • Tembisa Hospital

While there are others with similar problems, these Gauteng hospitals are regarded the worst in terms of assisting Priority 2 patients, or as Bloom terms it, the ‘walking wounded’.

What’s the average waiting period at these hospitals?

Steve Biko Hospital was used as an example to assess the average waiting period for patients of this nature to receive assistance. In an oral reply to Bloom’s questions, Gauteng Health MEC, Bandile Masuku, revealed that this is the time it takes for a patient to receive medical attention:

  • Time to register after arrival at hospital: two hours average
  • Time to see a doctor: two hours, 46 minutes
  • Time to collect medicine: one hour, 58 minutes

That totals about six hours, 44 minutes for a Priority 2 patient to receive medical assistance at Gauteng hospitals, on average. Bloom challenged the provincial health department to reduce the waiting periods for patients who need medical attention.

“Masuku says that more use will be made of scheduled appointment times, patients will be down-referred to other hospitals and clinics, and the CCMDD (Central Chronic Medicine Dispensing and Distribution) programme will be expanded to deliver medicines to chronic patients.

“I agree that pressure needs to be taken off the Steve Biko Hospital, but this requires upgraded alternative health facilities, otherwise people will continue to bypass them. The hospital needs to fill staff vacancies, fix broken equipment and use technology to become more efficient,” he said.