Pressure mounting on Gauteng hospital beds after alcohol ban was lifted

The entrance to Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, 7 June 2015, in Soweto, Johannesburg. Picture: Alaister Russell

Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital had 1 326 admissions in July 2020 compared to 2 683 in 2019.

Pressure is mounting on Gauteng hospitals following the lifting of the ban of alcohol sales across the country.

Last month the provincial Coronavirus Command Council reported that there were 8 301 beds available for Covid-19 patients, and that a total of 1 575 beds including 900 intensive care unit beds would be ready by end of July.

By 29 July, 5 476 Covid-19 patients were admitted in hospitals and 1 889 were in ICU, while 3 587 were admitted in general wards.

In a statement on Monday, following the move to Level 2 lockdown, the Gauteng Department of Health said the correlation between alcohol consumption and the number of emergency cases presenting at public hospitals was undeniable and putting pressure on the health system.

“The admission for emergency cases decreased during April, May, and July this year compared to last year. This can be attributed to lockdown and [the] ban on [the] sale of alcohol. The number of emergency room admissions increased in June, but decreased again in July after the ban,” department spokesperson Kwara Kekana said.

“The department urges the people of Gauteng to act responsibly during the Level 2 lockdown that has seen the lifting of the ban on sale of alcohol.”

Kekana said the direct effect of trauma cases is that a bed that could have been used for other services including treating Covid-19 cases would be taken up by alcohol-related cases.

“It should be noted, however, that not all trauma cases require a bed or overnight admission and the length of stay varies case by case.

“By a way of comparison the Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital in Soweto had 2 797 emergency cases for period covering April and May in 2020, which is less than 5 163 cases for the same period in 2019.

“The same applies to Tembisa Tertiary Hospital which had 5 540 cases for April and May this year compared to 8 803 for the same period in 2019,” Kekana said.

Comparison of Gauteng hospital admissions for July 2020 and 2019.

– Dr George Mukhari Hospital had 4 478 admissions in July 2020 compared to 5 124 in July 2019.

– Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital had 86 admissions in July 2020, however the data from 2019 was not available.

– Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital had 1 326 admissions in July 2020 compared to 2 683 in 2019.

– Tembisa Provincial Tertiary Hospital had 2 491 admissions in July 2020 however the data from 2019 was not available.

– Kalafong Provincial Tertiary Hospital had 2 917 admissions in July 2020 compared to 3 658 in 2019.

– Helen Joseph Provincial Tertiary Hospital had 3 534 admissions in July 2020 however the data from 2019 was not available.

– Edenvale Hospital had 704 admissions in July 2020 compared to 162 in 2019.

– Leratong Hospital had 3 828 admissions in July 2020 compared to 4 905 in 2019.

– Sebokeng Hospital had 1 417 admissions in July 2020 compared to 2 950 in 2019.

– Tambo Memorial Hospital had 862 admissions in July 2020 compared to 868 in 2019.

– Thelle Mogoerane Hospital had 2 946 in July 2020 compared to 3 272 in 2019.

– Far East Rand Hospital had 3 460 admissions in July 2020 compared to 3 847 in 2019.

– Mamelodi Hospital had 613 admissions in July 2020 compared to 1 817 in 2019.

– Dr Yusuf Dadoo Hospital had 368 admissions in July 2020 compared to 505 in 2019.

– South Rand Hospital had 348 admissions in July 2020 however the data from 2019 was not available.

– Bertha Gxowa Hospital had 247 admissions in July 2020 compared to 1529 in 2019.

– Kopanong Hospital had 831 admissions in July 2020 compared to 254 in 2019.

– Pretoria West Hospital had 298 admissions in July 2020 compared to 256 in 2019.

– Carletonville Hospital had 429 admissions in July 2020 compared to 5 124 in 2019.

– Odi Hospital had 563 admissions in July 2020 compared to 240 in 2019.

– Jubilee Hospital had 1 704 admissions in July 2020 compared to 2 133 in 2019.

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