Over the past few days VOC News has received an overwhelming number of calls from community members on the Cape Flats, complaining of dismal service at the Mitchell’s Plain District Hospital. These complaints range from extensive waiting times, poor attitude from staff as well as a shortage of crucial resources and infrastructure. Some patients have detailed having to wait well over 12 hours overnight to get some form of treatment by doctors, while the quality of service has also been brought into question.
One patient, who arrived at the facility at around 6pm on Wednesday evening, said she was forced to wait four hours before a doctor finally approached her. She was subsequently informed that only three doctors were on duty that evening, and was made to wait several hours more before finally receiving attention.
“4am this morning for the first time they called me in to check my heart, because I have high blood pressure, cholesterol and I’m a diabetic. The nurse only came back to me around something to six again,” said 59 year old Zainunesa Ismail from Woodlands in Mitchells Plain.
Another complainant Celeste Reynadt, also from Woodlands, said the service offered at the hospital was “disgusting”, pointing to apparent disrespect shown by staff members to patients. She also accused workers of maltreatment, including forcing another woman to “get up and walk” despite having limited mobility.
“People have been sitting and laying here since last night with no help. I mean it is pathetic. There are people here that are hungry and haven’t had anything to eat, and then you (the staff) come here with an attitude problem,” she said.
Mongiso Jobele from Phillipi sat in the waiting room for over 12 hours with two broken legs.
“I’ve been sitting here lying on the chairs since last night,” he said.
“They give us long stories about there being no doctors. No one comes to check on us and tell us what’s going on. They don’t even give us food.”
Addressing the complaints, the communications officer for the Western Cape Department of Health, Monique Johnstone said all facilities nationwide were currently under pressure, in particular those in the metro areas. She attributed this to an increase in population in the region, as well a “burden of disease profile”.
“Many people who are coming to emergency centres are suffering from underlying conditions which complicate their treatment and cause them to deter multiple times. In addition there are a number of people who use emergency centres instead of making use of our (general) health facilities,” she said.
The Mitchell’s Plain District Hospital is believed to cater to around 3600 patients in emergency centres on a monthly basis. Johnstone said it was certainly true some patients were being forced to wait extended hours.
Another issue has been the clear lack of resources at the centre. Johnstone said that in this regard the facility was under pressure in at key, but often unpredictable times. This shortage also varied based on the number of cases, as well as the influx of patients seen on a daily and monthly basis.
“We don’t condone bad service or attitude (by staff), and we ask specific cases to be reported to us. Having said this, we also acknowledge that staff members are doing their best under extremely difficult circumstance, and so we encourage clients to make access of our complaints hotline system,” she urged.
Johnstone advised patients to be aware of the long waits at emergency centres and to bring along something to eat or drink as the facility could not provide food to outpatients and those in the emergency centre.
Complaints can be directed at 0860 142 142. Alternatively send a please call me to 079 769 1207. VOC