Slash the hospital waiting hours

Premier David Makhura and Gauteng Health MEC Dr Bandile Masuku during their visit at Sebokeng Hospital.
Premier David Makhura and Gauteng Health MEC Dr Bandile Masuku during their visit at Sebokeng Hospital.
Image: Tankiso Makhetha

A revelation by an MEC that it takes close to seven hours to get medical attention at a Gauteng hospital is shocking.

This newspaper reported yesterday that patients wait for hours queuing, either to register, to see a doctor or collect medicine at Steve Biko Academic Hospital in central Pretoria.

While responding to a DA shadow health MEC Jack Bloom's question in the Gauteng legislature, MEC Dr Bandile Masuku revealed that on average sick people wait for two hours to register, another two hours and 46 minutes to see a doctor and an hour and 58min to collect medicine at the facility.

The fact that they keep such records means it had been happening for some time. Why then did they not do anything about it when they were first informed about the delays?

"These long waiting times are of great concern. Some patients even have to return the next day," Bloom said.

That is totally unacceptable that our health department expects sick people to wait for almost the whole day to get help and some leave without being seen by a doctor.

It is also a slap in the face for the poor who use public health facilities, and the majority of whom voted the government into power.

Masuku was quoted saying they would introduce an appointment system and also refer patients to other facilities to curb the delays.

It is good that he has a plan but worrying that he did not give time frames of when it would be implemented.

We hope those in power will also take into consideration that they are dealing with the poor who might not be able to call to schedule an appointment, and worse still have no means to get to the hospital at the appointed time.

This system could also lead to backlogs, as it is the case with the same model at licensing departments.

There are areas with more than three-month long lists of bookings for people who want to renew their driver's licences in Gauteng and other parts of SA.

We call on the department of health to put their patients first Masuku, treat them with the dignity they deserve, ensure they get the treatment they need and on time.

That is not too much to ask.

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