Universitas Hospital: from best to worst

Free State Health MEC, Butana Komphela; National Health Minister, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi and Lesotho Health Minister, Dr Molotsi Monyamane at a meeting with various stakeholders in Bloemfontein on the National Health Insurance Plan. PHOTO: PULANE CHOANE

The Universitas Academic Hospital in Bloemfontein – once the pride of South Africa’s public health system – is now the worst in the country in its category. This is according to Health Minister, Aaron Motsoaledi. He said during a recent meeting in Bloemfontein that Universitas Hospital is the lowest ranked hospital. This is according to the latest report by the Office of Health Standards Compliance (OHSC).
It found that out of a total of 10 academic hospitals in the country, it has fallen to the last place. Confirming that this hospital was once the diamond in the public health service, he said it occupied the number one spot just years ago. Reading from the report, he said that at the time Universitas had a 90% compliance rate. According to the latest findings of the OHSC report, it has now a compliance rate of only 60%. Motsoaledi said the over 30% drop in its compliance and quality assurance standards rate is concerning. “Something in this hospital has gone horribly wrong and considering the hospital’s partnership with the University of the Free State (UFS), the reason for the drop in standard must be explained and sorted out.” The findings of the OHSC report is the latest of a series of damning reports that have been haunting the Free State Health Department. Its financial woes have led to this department being put under administration and a report by the Public Service Commission (PSC) that was tabled in national parliament found a shortage of staff, shortage of life saving medication and a backlog in the maintenance of medical equipment. To top it all, the Universitas Hospital was the hardest hit by the exodus of medical professionals – the majority being specialists in their fields. At the end of last year alone a quarter of the doctors in the province had left the Free State public health.
The Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) also published a report after horror stories of patients and their family members were told during a public hearing into the collapsing health service in the province. But, the TAC was much more optimistic about the situation after a cabinet reshuffling earlier this month saw Health MEC, Benny Malakoane, being moved to another portfolio. “Under Malakoane’s watch the public healthcare system in the province has limped from crisis to crisis with people who rely on it left traumatised by death and pain,” said the organisation’s Anele Yawa. “While the removal of Malakoane from the health portfolio is a major step forward, we are under no illusion about the task ahead of us to rebuild the Free State public healthcare system,” he said.
Former Police, Roads and Transport MEC, Butana Komphela, is now the MEC for Health in the province. Meanwhile, a report that details findings during visits to all clinics and hospitals in the Free State by the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) is expected to be released soon. Courant contacted the provincial department of health for comment, but by the time of going to print no comment had been received. – Pulane Choane & Cathy Dlodlo