Hazardous medical waste is building up to dangerous levels in two state hospitals in Tshwane and Johannesburg because the Gauteng health department has not paid the supplier to remove the waste.
Jack Bloom, DA Gauteng shadow health MEC, claimed he was aware of a number of hospitals where medical waste has not been collected since December last year. Bloom said these hospitals included Kalafong Hospital, west of Pretoria, and the Dr George Mukhari Academic Hospital, north of Pretoria.
The Leratong and Dr Yusuf Dadoo hospitals in Mogale City are facing the same problem, Bloom said.
“This is in contravention of Gauteng provincial regulations that medical waste may not be stored onsite at hospitals for longer than 30 days, with the exception of sharps [needles and scalpels] and expired medicines, which can be stored for 90 days,” said Bloom.
“It is yet another example of the Gauteng health department’s budget crisis that is worsening patient care because unpaid suppliers are stopping deliveries and services.”
He said the lack of budget has also led to community service nurses not being placed. The firstyear nursing course for 700 students has been delayed until the new financial year in April.
“The department needs an astounding R5 billion to pay off all its debts and keep essential health services going. The health intervention team announced last year by Premier David Makhura needs to produce quick results as the situation is deteriorating rapidly in many areas,” Bloom added.
Gauteng health spokesperson Lesemang Matuka said management was aware of the situation and working around the clock to find an urgent solution.
“The problem has got to do with the delay in supplier payment,” Matuka said.