Tembisa Hospital has called on the local community to use primary healthcare centres and local government clinics closer to their homes, in order to ensure the hospital uses its resources on critical patients.
The call follows a social media post about the overcrowding at the facility.
In a statement issued by the Gauteng Department of Health, the hospital confirmed that due to a high demand for healthcare services in Tembisa and the surrounding areas, critical patients are admitted despite wards reaching their full capacity, especially pregnant mothers as they cannot be turned away.
“The hospital acknowledges that admitting more patients than the ward can accommodate is not ideal, however, the demand and the increase in the burden of diseases makes this unavoidable. The fact that there are no lower level hospitals closer to Tembisa Hospital, which could be used for down referral purposes compounds matters,” the department said.
The hospital explained that the ward was supposed to have four midwives, however, due to the ill-health to one of them, there were three midwives. This was in response to some misleading information on the social media post that claimed there were only two midwives on duty.
“In addition to that, there were three enrolled nurses and one operational manager. Altogether there were seven staff members in the ward. The ward had 80 pregnant patients, not 96 as alleged.
“The hospital serves a population size of 1.2 million and delivers more than 1 400 babies a month. This means the hospital delivers second highest number of babies in the country,” the department said.
Delivering the State of the Nation Address (SoNA) to a joint sitting of Parliament on Thursday evening, President Cyril Ramaphosa said government will attend to the health of the nation to improve the quality of life of South Africans.
“We must attend to the capacity of our hospitals and clinics. An 80-year-old grandmother cannot spend an entire day in a queue waiting for her medication. An ill patient cannot be turned away because there is a shortage of doctors and nurses… A woman in labour cannot have her unborn child’s life put in danger because the ambulance has taken too long to come,” President Ramaphosa said.
As part of the work that must be urgently done to improve the quality of the health system, the President announced that government is finalising the Presidential Health Summit Compact, which draws on expert insights, and will mobilise the capabilities of all key stakeholders to address the crisis in the state’s clinics and hospitals.
Education, skills and health are among the seven priorities the government would focus on in the coming year.