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Hospital service slammed

A flood of complaints about the Caledon provincial hospital was the unintended result of a Facebook post on a Caledon community page by an unhappy visitor to the hospital.

Long waiting hours, unfriendly treatment by security officials who hand out numbers to patients, overworked staff, overcrowded wards and safety and security issues were just some of the concerns raised. “This is not the first time we had to wait so long,” explained a man, who preferred to remain anonymous, after taking his mother to hospital with a broken arm. “We arrived at the hospital last week at 09:00, were given a number and waited until 18:00. They did take an x-ray of my mother’s arm, but she didn’t see the doctor. She had to return the next day. A staff member told the Gazette its biggest problem is a shortage of staff and the integration of patients from Grabouw to Caledon.

“Our workload has increased, but not our staff quotient or doctors,”said one staff member. “People wait many hours to see a doctor, as these practitioners have to operate and cope with medical emergencies in between seeing patients. They simply cannot cope with the workload.”

The staffer said overcrowding in wards lead to cross-infection, which is not only a disadvantage for patients, but also for staff.

The member also expressed concern about the safety and security of patients and staff due the close proximity of the N2 to the hospital, and there being no security gates.

“The health sector faces complex challenges,” said Roché Butler, spokesperson for Overberg District, Western Cape Government: Health. “The effects of a depressed fiscal climate and rising service pressures brought on by the high burden of non-communicable diseases continue to be felt throughout the province. The current pressures at Western Cape Health facilities are experienced across the service platform, including Caledon Hospital.”

She said the burden on their health facilities is much larger than they were designed for. There is always a tension between the escalating demand for services and the available resources.

“Shortage of beds is always relative to the demands on the service. The Primary Health Care platform such as your clinics and community health centres are the entry points into public health system – and clients are encouraged to first attend these if they suspect they need health care.”

Butler said emergency centres are the entry point into the public hospitals, and therefore face the brunt of the pressure. Further fuelling this pressure on emergency centres are people with minor conditions who bypass the clinic or community health centre. She said Grabouw received a 24-hour emergency service from March 2019, only for patients who require admission and further specialist care being referred to Caledon Hospital.

“Security measures have been put in place to protect the staff and patients at Caledon Hospital, and security guards have been instructed to be more vigilant with regard to the safety of patients.”

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