Thursday, October 23, 2008

Hospital time bomb is ticking

Premature babies, who might have had a fighting chance at life, are dying at Addington Hospital because it lacks crucial equipment.

According to a senior pediatrician with links to the hospital, it has never had a specialized pediatric oxygen machine - despite the fact that provincial hospital guidelines stated that, to function optimally, pediatric facilities must have one.

The specialized machine (known as a CPAP) delivers oxygen to a baby's underdeveloped lungs without causing irreparable damage.

"I've lost count of how many times they (the staff in the Addington pediatric ward) have applied for the vital machine, only to be told there's no budget available," said the source.


"It's small wonder, really, since they haven't even been given a replacement ventilator for premature babies, although the old one they are using is virtually beyond repair."

The Daily News reported on the shocking state of government hospitals in KwaZulu-Natal, all of which are struggling to provide an efficient service to patients in the face of severe staff shortages and shortage or lack of essential equipment.

Six doctors interviewed claimed the department of health has frozen staff replacements to recoup a budgetary overspend.

This was denied by the department, whose spokesperson, Leon Mbangwa, asserted that posts had "simply been rationalized" to cut unnecessary costs.

At Greys Hospital, a source in the anesthetic department said it was "a small miracle" that they had not yet lost patients under anesthesia.

"The time bomb is ticking, though. It is bound to happen sooner or later, unless we get the equipment we so desperately need," she said.

"There have been a number of cases where patients at Greys almost died. When equipment fails, an alert and expert doctor can often still rescue the patient. It's like engines falling off planes, though.

"If that continues to happen on a regular basis, skill alone won't be able to save some patients. We've had a number of incidents of significant harm when ICU ventilators have malfunctioned, causing lung damage to patients."

A specialist who resigned from Port Shepstone General Hospital recently said management at that hospital had "total disregard" for doctors' pleas to fill critical posts.

"We repeatedly made it clear that we were headed for crisis, and would not be able to staff the emergency or anaesthetic wards on a 24-hour basis unless we were given specialists to fill the vacant posts," he said.

"Interns are manning the emergency ward part of the time. They are out of their depth and do not have the experience or qualifications to handle serious cases. It is traumatic for them and detrimental to the system."

The doctor said that the crisis, coupled with bureaucratic indifference, had resulted in his resignation.

"When I drive past the hospital I think of the difference that I could be making, but then I remind myself that I won't have to have deaths on my conscience if they occur because of the present crisis."

While Port Shepstone and Greys hospitals are among those hardest hit by staff shortages, another source said the bureaucratic infrastructure at the two institutions was massive. "There are five human resources employees to every doctor," he said.

"The doctors have pleaded with the administration to cut down on non-essential staff, but they are ignored. Five medical officers from Port Shepstone have emigrated to Canada in recent months.

"They'd had enough and couldn't bear the daily deterioration and being treated as simpletons."

The doctor revealed that the waiting list for surgical procedures at Port Shepstone was huge.

"The hospital is at present performing virtually no elective surgery," he said. "There is a backlog of people with trauma. Patients with fractured femurs are being sent home to wait three months or more until they can be operated on."

The anaesthetist at Greys said that "up to 70 percent" of the anesthetists she had encountered in the province were considering cutting their ties with South Africa.

"It's about the push factor now, rather than the pull factor when it comes to emigration. Medical personnel aren't going overseas for better money any more. Many are accepting similar salaries for lesser positions just to get out of this madness and practice ethical, responsible medicine," she said.

For all the talk of the ANC, they just don’t seem to give a damn about the very people they had sworn to uplift.

Here are some highlights from the official ANC site Source

Only a united ANC can meet the needs of the poor.

Building on what we have achieved.

Giving a voice to the voiceless.

Proud of our record

Speech by ANC President Jacob Zuma
Any government, which has achieved what the ANC has delivered over this short space of time, should be proud of its record, and we are indeed proud of the work we have done, said ANC President Jacob Zuma in a recent speech to black business people.

The reality however paints a different picture.

Unemployment in 2007, including those who have given up looking for work, it was 38,3%. Our unemployment rate, like our murder rate, is one of the highest in the world.

In 1985 life expectancy in South Africa was 62 years.

In 2007 it was 50. It became 12 years shorter under President Mbeki.

South Africans are facing a veritable crime holocaust with over 4.6 million South Africans have been victims of violent crime; over 291 000 people have been murdered since the ANC came to power in 1994.

In the past year there were 19,202 murders committed in South Africa. That's 'only' a 3.5% increase from the previous year.

Over the past six years there have been 119,305 reported murders in South Africa.

There have been more murders committed in South Africa over the past 30 months alone than there were in the UK in the period dating back to 1898! Source

This one hospital alone, was responsible for the death of 140 Eastern Cape babies .They also charged mothers R30 to sleep on the floor alongside their sick children. Source

South Africa’s looming water crisis Source

XDR-TB crisis in South Africa Source

Aids crisis in South Africa Source

South Africa's housing crisis Source

South Africa`s Immigration crisis Source

South Africa`s unemployment crisis Source

Proud of our record ............Really?

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