A patient in KwaZulu-Natal has alleged she needed to lend her cellphone to a midwife so that she could be operated on at the same hospital in Chatsworth that made headlines recently for having a patient infested with maggots.
In a statement on Tuesday, the Democratic Alliance in KwaZulu-Natal said they had written to the KZN health MEC, Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu, after being “reliably informed that an RK Khan Hospital patient was allegedly asked for her cellphone torch so that a procedure could be performed on her as a result of the hospital light source not working”.
They said the patient, who wished to remain anonymous, had to undergo a surgical procedure known as an episiotomy while delivering her baby, in order to widen the birth canal.
“To repair the incision, she claims she was asked to lend the midwife her cellphone torch to enable her to see what she was doing,” said DA MPL Dr Imran Keeka.
The party said it was stunned and asked how much lower standards at KZN’s state hospitals could sink.
“The horror stories coming out of RK Khan and other facilities are never-ending,” added Keeka.
The health department has apparently claimed it was “not aware of this incident as a complaint being raised” and denied to the DA that the incident even took place.
The DA responded that this defence did not hold water and they expected answers.
“In fact, the reason for a complaint not being lodged through hospital management is because the patient fears victimisation and also because she was fobbed off after laying an earlier complaint over poor service at this facility.”
The party referenced the recent shocking story of a late patient whose mouth was filled with maggots at the same hospital.
“It is clear that the problems at this hospital are widespread and the DA expects the MEC to expand her investigations to cover various areas of healthcare delivery.
“RK Khan is one of KZN’s busiest facilities with a bed utilisation rate of around 91% while other hospitals range between 40 and 80%. Despite this, oversight inspections by the DA in recent years have revealed no improvement in staffing and equipment shortages, medicine supply issues and infrastructure – this while the then MEC sat on his hands.
“With such a busy and understaffed facility it is inevitable that staff will be burnt out and absenteeism will be high, increasing the workload of those who are at work on any given day. Notwithstanding, there is no excuse to not have proper and functional equipment when performing surgical procedures. What next? Will kerosene lamps be used while delivering babies?”
They alleged that the KZN health department had been destroyed by the previous MEC.
“The new MEC has a lot to do. Whether she is up to the task remains to be seen.”
(Compiled by Charles Cilliers)