Gauteng health department worsens in first quarter

An empty ICU ward at the Helen Joseph Hospital in Westdene, all the patients were transferred to Coronation Hospital and Baragwanath until power cuts are over.

An empty ICU ward at the Helen Joseph Hospital in Westdene, all the patients were transferred to Coronation Hospital and Baragwanath until power cuts are over.

Waiting times for hospital patients, tuberculosis treatment, medicine availability and fatality rates have deteriorated.

Waiting times for hospital patients, tuberculosis treatment, medicine availability, and the fatality rate for diarrhoea and malnutrition have deteriorated in the first quarter of the Gauteng health department’s 2019/20 budget from April to June this year, said the Democratic Alliance (DA).

DA member of the Gauteng legislature Jack Bloom said in a statement on Wednesday this was revealed in the department’s first quarterly report which was tabled on Tuesday at the Gauteng Legislature Health Committee.

According to the report, only four out of 12 district hospitals achieved the three-hour benchmark waiting time in the outpatients department, down from 11 out of 12 hospitals in the previous year.

While all three tertiary hospitals (Helen Joseph, Tembisa, and Kalafong) met the four-hour benchmark waiting time last year, only one of these hospitals achieved this in the first quarter.

The TB treatment success rate went down from 84% last year to 74%, while TB patients lost to follow-up went up from 6.3% to 9.7% and the TB death rate rose from 6.3% to 6.4%, whereas the target is to keep the death rate below 5%.

Bloom said a shocking statistic was that the number of children dying from acute malnutrition increased from 6.8% to 9% – this includes seven child deaths in April and 19 deaths in May.

The diarrhoea fatality rate also went up, from 2.1% to 2.6%.

Essential and vital medicine availability, which should be 100%, dropped from 96.3% to 96%.

“Poor spending patterns continue – the administration programme overspent by R132 million because of medical negligence payouts, while emergency services failed to spend R46.5 million and hospitals underspent a whopping total of R1.257 billion.

“Gauteng health MEC Bandile Masuku faces a huge challenge to bring improvements after this disappointing start to the financial year.”

(Compiled by Makhosandile Zulu)

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