Health care under siege

Scores of people, including senior citizens, gathered at Sisonke creche in Gugulethu for a health imbizo.

Long queues, the bad attitude of staff and poor services rendered were some of the main complaints raised when the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) held a community health imbizo at Sisonke crèche in Gugulethu on Thursday April 26.

Scores of senior citizens and young people gathered at the hall to raise their concerns about how they have been treated by nurses at various community clinics.

This comes after the TAC had conducted a three-year survey on the quality of services rendered by nurses at public healthcare clinics in the Klipfontein district, which includes Philippi, Nyanga, Crossroads and Gugulethu.

The findings of the survey were damning and revealed that bad staff attitude towards patients was one of the main reasons why people were unwilling to visit clinics and hospitals.

But most importantly, the survey highlighted that staff shortages and inadequate resources were the biggest challenge facing public health facilities.

Provincial TAC chairperson, Vuyani Macotha, said they hosted this dialogue to table their findings to the community and give them an opportunity to make suggestions to improve services.

He said according to the health national standard, the maximum waiting time for patients in clinics was suppose to be two hours. Instead, he said people ended up spending the whole day at the clinic with some being turned away because there were not enough doctors to help them.

Mr Macotha said patients started queuing outside clinics in the wee hours of the morning but the gate would only be opened at 8am. This, he said, put people’s lives at risk as patients and staff were constantly robbed near the KTC clinic.

He said the attitude of some nurses at KTC clinic was problematic.

He called for an improved healthcare system.

“We don’t just want to complain about these problems but we want our people to be part of solving them. We want to strengthen the quality of public healthcare facilities. People do not want to go to KTC clinic because of the long queues and staff attitude,” he said.

Mr Macotha said the shortage of medication was also among the problems facing the public healthcare sector. He said the government needed to conduct workshops to change the attitude and behaviour of the nurses.

Mr Macotha said they had formulated some key strategies which are aimed at improving public health facilities.

Those attending the imbizo lambasted the poor services rendered by clinics and hospitals.

Resident Nandipha Koloti was unhappy about the services at KTC clinic.

She said the issues raised at the event were not new and had been discussed many times but nothing was done to address them.

Ms Koloti said it was their human basic right to access quality healthcare.

Provincial TAC manager, Mary-Jane Matsolo, said they hosted the event because they wanted to change the public healthcare system.

She said it was time that the government acted on these complaints about the healthcare system.

Department of Health representative, Lukholo Ngamlana, said he was not at liberty to answer questions from residents but said that he would note their complaints and take those to the relevant people for answers.