Department of Health must account for human cost of hospital negligence
Patricia Kopane, Shadow Minister of Health
14 June 2012
Negligence in provincial health departments has reached pandemic proportions.
Recent cases of negligence include:
- The Eastern Cape health department is facing legal action after doctors left a swab ‘the size of a hand towel’ in the abdomen of a 28-year old, single mother
- In the Free State, a 32-year old doctor who was raped by a patient while on duty in Pelonomi Hospital is suing the Free State Department of Health, as the necessary steps hadn’t been taken to ensure the safety of doctors.
- Reports today indicate that in the Northern Cape, a young couple lost their 3-month old son after the infant was discharged from Kimberley Hospital despite struggling to breathe.
These cases are a disgrace to our public health care system.
I will today be submitting questions to the Minister of Health Aaron Motsoaledi to find out how many cases of negligence- affecting both patients and staff- have occurred in each provincial hospital, and what steps were taken to hold those responsible accountable in each case.
I will also write to the Chairperson of the Health Portfolio Committee, to request that Minister Motsoaledi briefs the committee on the steps his department is taking to ensure the safety of hospital staff and patients alike.
Negligence at our hospitals has far-reaching human costs.
It denies South Africans the right to access quality care, and chases away valuable skills when doctors and nurses cannot face working in an environment where their safety cannot be guaranteed.
Hospitals are supposed to be places of healing. However, hospital staff are in many cases unsafe at work as a result of insufficient steps being taken to ensure their security. Furthermore, patients and their families are faced with unnecessary trauma as a result of poor quality care.
All South Africans deserve access to quality health care. Minister Motsoaledi must come clean about the extent of the crisis hospital negligence has caused, and ensure that his department takes the steps necessary to hold those responsible to account.