Netcare hospital group recalls front-line staff from leave, boosts oxygen supply

Netcare group is calling front-line staff back from leave to help deal with the Covid-19 resurgence.
Netcare group is calling front-line staff back from leave to help deal with the Covid-19 resurgence.
Image: Eugene Coetzee

Netcare has had to substantially increase its oxygen capacity at all hospitals and has urgently recalled all front-line staff from leave, the hospital group said on Monday, as the Covid-19 resurgence grows in SA.

The company is deploying additional doctors, nurses, paramedics and health-care worker teams to areas of need, said Dr Richard Friedland, Netcare CEO.

Describing the surge in infections as “extremely concerning”, he said the group was reviewing and evaluating all it is doing to combat the affect of Covid-19.

The recent surge, particularly in the Eastern Cape, Limpopo, Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal, had placed unprecedented demand on Netcare’s facilities, said Friedland.

“We expect this demand to continue in Limpopo and the Western Cape for at least the next two weeks, but unfortunately to increase in KZN over the same period. Fortunately, we have seen a reduction in cases in the Eastern Cape.

“We however remain extremely concerned about Gauteng, which is already beginning to surge, and we are expecting a dramatic increase in cases as holidaymakers return to the province in early January.”

According to Friedland, in the Eastern Cape, Limpopo, the Western Cape and KZN, the number of patients admitted to hospital far exceeds that experienced in the first wave of the pandemic.

Netcare has had to substantially increase its oxygen capacity at all hospitals and has urgently recalled all front-line staff from leave.

“We have also ensured that we have adequate supplies of the appropriate drugs and consumables, as well as personal protective equipment to last us throughout this second wave. We have implemented strict infection prevention and control policies and principles. We demand fastidious adherence to these.”

In circumstances where the demand exceeds or overwhelms the capacity, they may not be able to provide all treatment options that would be available in normal, non-pandemic circumstances.

“While we will always endeavour to provide care to patients arriving at our facilities, the increased demand will require us to make decisions regarding access to certain treatment modalities,” said Friedland.

“Practically, this may mean that levels of care such as ICU and high care, ventilators or certain oxygen delivery modalities may not be available to all patients. Where possible, we will seek to transfer patients, once stabilised, to one of our other hospitals, should they have capacity.

“Our clinicians will make all of these decisions based on the availability of resources and their best clinical judgment. We fully support them in this difficult task and complex decision-making process.”

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