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CHAOS erupted at Durban's Addington Hospital when patients confronted KwaZulu-Natal MEC for health Sibongiseni Dhlomo about their frustration at having to wait for hours in long queues to collect their medication.
Dhlomo was at the hospital on an unannounced visit after several reports that the hospital was not coping with the huge backlogs caused by the doctors' strike.
The MEC encountered horrible scenes as patients told him that they had been queuing from as early as 4am.
When Dhlomo arrived in the morning more than 2000 patients were queuing for medication.
Owing to the long queues the designated waiting area at the hospital was so overcrowded that many patients were forced to wait in the canteen.
Some patients told Dhlomo that the situation was unbearable and that they sometimes had to wait for more than a week to collect their medication.
Frustrated patient Bongeka Mhlungu said she had been coming to the hospital since Monday.
"I came to collect my medication but I have not received it. And I have to sleep on the hospital benches to be among the first," Mhlungu said.
A hospital official told Dhlomo they gave patients reference numbers but that did not guarantee that they got their medication.
"When the pharmacy closes people have to come the next day to collect their medication."
Another patient, Bongeka Gumede, said she had spent more than 24 hours at the hospital to collect her medication.
"I'm not even sure whether I will get my medication."
Dhlomo promised patients he would urgently seek to employ people to address the backlogs in the hospital pharmacy.
"We will hire temporary people to work in the pharmacy so that this backlog can be sorted out." Dhlomo said.
He later told a media briefing that problems at Addington Hospital were caused by poor management.
"The hospital has no medical manager. The medical manager retired last September," he said.
"The post will be filled immediately. It was advertised several times but we could not find a suitable candidate."