unknown patients swamp hospitals

HOSPITALS in KwaZulu-Natal are overburdened by a large number of unidentified patients who can't be discharged because their families have not claimed them.

Yesterday health officials in the province called on those with sick relatives to keep in contact with hospitals.

A number of unidentified patients remain in hospitals without any of relatives coming forward," provincial health department head Sibongile Zungu said.

Zungu said the situation became even more problematic when patients absconded. She said in two recent cases, patients absconded without informing the hospital.

"We urge relatives to be in constant contact with our hospitals to get updates on how a patient is responding to treatment and care provided.

"This will also build bridges that appear when such unfortunate incidents, of patients absconding from care, occur."

Zungu said a patient, Henry Ndlovu, 37, was admitted to the Northdale Hospital on February 17 this year but had since left the hospital.

Zungu said Ndlovu, who was last seen wearing hospital pyjamas, was in need of urgent medical attention. She described him as slim, with a fair complexion and with short hair.

She urged anyone with information to call the police or the department's toll-free number 0800 005133.