Public Protector's investigation into 17 hospitals finds similar challenges

A public protector probe has found similar issues faced by hospitals across four provinces. File photo.
A public protector probe has found similar issues faced by hospitals across four provinces. File photo.
Image: Emile Bosch/ TimesLIVE

A shortage of personal protection equipment (PPE) and staff, poor hygiene and substandard ambulance services were the key challenges highlighted in a  public protector investigation into 17 public health facilities.

On Monday, Adv Busi Mkhwebane released a report into investigations into several departments, including the health department.

Her office surveyed 17 public facilities across Gauteng, Mpumalanga, the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo.

“We propose that at Jubilee Hospital, the department must in the short term, ensure that it capacitates the hospital with respect to conducting its own Covid-19 tests; the procurement of the Covid-19 machine/kit will assist in alleviating the turnaround time for the tests especially in light of a possible second wave of Covid-19.

“Ensure that sufficient and adequate PPE are received by hospitals upon collection from the depots; the PPE must be in line with the requested specifications, and the department must immediately train all staff in relation to the risk strategy and the work of the risk management committee,” said the report.

In the case of Dr George Mukhari Academic Hospital, the public protector proposes interventions that have to do with risk management and business continuity.

“As a way forward, the oversight role of the minister and MECs will be important in steering the process of assessment of the effectiveness of hospitals to achieve good governance. The office of the minister should submit an action plan on how the affected hospitals will address the issues that were raised during the inspections,” said the report.

According to the report, there was insufficient procurement, distribution and provisioning of PPE to ensure that the staff and the Covid-19 patients were adequately protected from the surge of the pandemic.  

“It was a cause for concern that the PPE was collected at the warehouse and it is procured by the department and not hospital. Hospitals did not have sufficient PPE.  

“A lack of staff  capacity affects the smooth running of the hospitals as posts are not being filled which has an adverse effect on service delivery.

“Workload for the doctors was too high. Doctors are often expected to work excessive hours as a result of clinical staff shortages.    

“Lack of communication between management and staff. High infection rate of employees. Poor relationships between management and labour. Lack of co-operation between staff and unions.

“Linen staff washing the laundry of Covid-19 patients with no gloves. Poor maintenance of laundry machines leads to them breaking regularly.” the report said.  


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