The KwaZulu-Natal health department has attributed staff absenteeism and the high number of patients who turned up at Wentworth Hospital after a video showed what appeared to be a lack of care for patients.
The video started circulating at the weekend, showing patients sleeping on the floor, unattended, or in chairs - while one woman screams for help, saying she cannot breathe. In the video, which is about 90 seconds long, no staff members are seen responding to or attending to the woman. It is unclear who took the video.
The department said it immediately dispatched a high-level delegation of managers from its head office after becoming aware of the video.
During the visit, the department said it was established that the patients who were filmed were awaiting their Covid–19 results, saying they were known as patients under investigation (PUIs).
“On the day in question, the hospital had received a particularly high number of patients. Additionally, 11 doctors were away in isolation, after testing positive. A further 17 nursing staff were off due to Covid-19. Six nurses were in charge of the accidents and emergency unit, as well as a 28–bedded short-stay ward with very sick patients,” the department explained in a statement.
It has, however, condemned the filming and distribution of video footage of any patients within the care of the department, without official authorisation and the patients’ permission.
“This is indecent and tantamount to the violation of patients’ inalienable right to privacy and dignity,” the department said.