Excitement over the Batho Clinic, which is the first ever 24-hour state clinic facility in the province, is slowly dwindling. This is because the facility, which should provide much-needed services to nearby communities who often cannot reach other nearby state hospitals, is not being maintained.
The Economic Freedom Fighters recently visited the clinic as part of their oversight visits to all clinics in Mangaung, and what they found was not a pretty sight. “It’s a new facility but there is no maintenance, its already falling apart. The toilets are not working, chairs are broken, the ceiling is falling apart, the air-conditioning is also not working, and things are just not right, even though it’s a beautiful facility,” said EFF Councillor, Paulnita Marais.
EFF Regional Member, Thato Mokoena, said they were shocked when entering the gate as there was no way to distinguish the security guards apart from residents as they do not have uniforms. “They complained that they had been working at the clinic for over a year, but it seems as if no one is taking them seriously regarding their uniform, and what’s worse is that they do not have any form of protection for themselves, which could be very dangerous, especially at night,” said Mokoena.
The EFF will compile a report of their visit, which will then be taken to parliament, stating that they hope this will help bring positive change to the clinic.
In a written response to Bloemfontein Courant, the Department of Health said: “It is a concern to us as a department that we have to deal with allegations over governance issues in the media without ascertaining if these have been raised exhaustively following all due processes internally. Our health professionals have internal mechanisms that they are supposed to follow, including labour relations processes that can enable them to deal with their labour disputes, including their labour unions. It will be unfortunate to have political parties visiting our facilities and end up with disruptive allegations being thrown at our management systems.”
The department added that the clinic is operational during all 24 hours. Four professional nurses are on night duty, with only two working per shift. And that the majority of patients are seen between 07:00 and 16:00.
With regards to the fact that there is only one doctor who works for the clinic, the department said it is using the WISN System (Work Load Indicators of Staffing Needs) method to determine the human resource needs for facilities.
“According to WISN the doctor in this facility (Batho clinic) is only for three days. Ideally it would be very nice to have a doctor for 24 hours but for now it is not possible. However, patients are referred to a second level of care, which is less than 5 km away.”
The department responded by stating that it has functional security at the facility. “We can’t comment further on the Security matter because the PSA union has taken the matter to court. The Senior Management of the Department met with representatives of the workers and advised them that they will either have to withdraw the matter at the court if they want to engage with the department because any other action when the matter is not withdrawn will be equal to undermining the process of the law.” – Seithati Semenokane