Columns 29.6.2018 08:15 am

NHI is pie in the sky, Minister Motsoaledi

The dilapidated Kempton Park Hospital.

The dilapidated Kempton Park Hospital.

We need tangible, practical solutions for a very real healthcare tragedy. Your daydreams aren’t going to give us the healthcare we deserve.

You’re an idiot,” the lovely Snapdragon told me last weekend as we sat in front of the TV, watching yet another rebroadcast of a DStv movie. “But even you wouldn’t come up with this health insurance plan.”

Snapdragon isn’t objective: she works for a spin doctor for several medical aid companies. But, at the same time, she also knows a bit more about the matter than most.

“Well,” I tried to add my two cents worth to the discussion – which is only about 0.14 American cents, a clear indication of the value of my opinion in our house. “A system where 80% of the doctors in the country work in private medical care is morally indefensible – finish and klaar.”

“True,” she replied. “But how can we trust this bunch with a new health system after mucking up public hospital care?”

“Uhmmm,” I said, but she silenced me immediately with a wave of her hand. “Kempton Park Hospital.”

“Those are three words,” I wanted to say, but kept my remark to myself. Because she is right.

The Kempton Park Hospital is a glaring monument to the incompetence of successive national and provincial health departments over the past three decades.

My son was born there 24 years ago, when it compared favourably to any of its private competitors. It was financially self-sufficient and an example of what was possible in public healthcare.

Then, 21 years ago, the Gauteng health department inexplicably decided to close the nine storey, 350-bed facility. The beautiful building was left unmaintained with theatre equipment rusting while nearby Edenvale and Tembisa hospitals were overflowing.

Now it has been announced that the building is going to be demolished at a cost of R127 million.

Minister Aaron Motsoaledi, we appreciate your efforts, but stop kicking the can down the road to burden future governments with implementation and explain where the money will come from.

The punch-drunk South African citizen is already a member of one of the most overtaxed communities in the world.

We need tangible, practical solutions for a very real healthcare tragedy. Your daydreams aren’t going to give us the healthcare we deserve. Give us real solutions or make way for someone who can pull this country out of its public health tragedy.

Dirk Lotriet. Picture: Alaister Russell

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