Urgent intervention required at Moroka District Hospital

Stethoscope on a printed sheet of paper

The past weekend’s rain was a welcome relief for most people, especially farmers, but not for the patients and medical staff at the Dr J S Moroka District Hospital in Thaba Nchu. For them it’s a constant struggle as the hospital’s roof is leaking and the ceiling is collapsing. This might be the least of their worries as a shortage of medical personnel is threatening service at this hospital, which can lead to the loss of lives.
At first the Public Service Commission called for an urgent intervention by the Free State Health Department in a damning report on the problems that were found during an inspection. This is the second report of its kind about the state of Free State Health that this commission has published. Last year a report that followed an inspection at Pelonomi Hospital about a shortage of medication and staff and a backlog in the maintenance of medical equipment had been tabled in parliament. This year, Provincial PSC Commissioner, Henk Boshoff, said they visited Moroka Hospital as part of inspections at health facilities in the province. “At the time of visiting the hospital there were only two doctors on duty,” he said. Boshoff said this highlighted the shortage of staff and explained why patients have to queue for most of the day to be seen. He said the roof of the hospital leaks, the whole ceiling needs to be replaced and some serious landscaping is needed. The PSC was not alone in its concerns about the services
delivered at this hospital. About 100 members of the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) were picketing at the hospital two weeks ago. The organisation said in a statement that the shortage of staff had led to a patient dying while waiting to be seen by a doctor. It said that they have received complaints about long waiting periods for patients, staff and medicine shortages, as well as unclean facilities. “People
are found to be lying in dirty nappies and filthy linen that hasn’t been changed for days,” said Provincial TAC Chairperson, Oupanyana Mahutsioa. He said the health system in Thaba Nchu is in crisis. Meanwhile, Boshoff met with newly appointed Health MEC, Butana Komphela, about the situation at the hospital, the report and the department’s plan of action. “In our report we gave the department six
months to address problems and the department undertook to prioritise the hospital and to do a follow-up inspection later this month,” he said. Boshoff said he can confirm that the department has already started with maintenance work at the hospital. “We also decided to dig in and help with the landscaping problem,” he explained. The TAC said they are committed to engage with Komphela constructively to
bring an end to the crisis in the Free State Healthcare system. “The situation in the Free State is desperate and requires urgent and serious intervention. We are under no illusion about the difficult task ahead of us to rebuild the Free State public healthcare system (since the removal of former Health MEC, Benny Malakoane),” said the organisation. – Cathy Dlodlo