Health Portfolio Committee Conducts Oversight in KZN

We have heard your problems. Some of you said they arrived early to be helped and are still waiting, these were the words of the acting Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Health, Mr Fish Mahlela, during an oversight at Mpumuza clinic.

The committee is on a week-long oversight in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) focusing on hospitals and clinics in UMgungundlovu and Durban. The visit is part of the committee's work in conducting oversight over the executive and government departments.

The committee is visiting National Health Insurance (NHI) pilot sites, as the National Health Insurance has been published by the Department of Health for public comment and will thereafter come to Parliament. The visit will assist the committee to assess the progress made in the NHI pilot district, and allow it to make the necessary recommendations and take informed decisions when the NHI becomes legislation.

During its walkabout at the clinic, the committee discovered lots of challenges hampering the delivery of services. Amongst the biggest challenges are the backlog in infrastructure development and maintenance, the size of the clinic, and the non-availability of medicine. The clinic is too small; there is no space. We cannot have a clinic that small servicing four wards. It's a matter that needs to be attended to, said Mr Mahlalela.

A representative on infrastructure from the provincial department made a commitment to the committee that by December this issue will be resolved, as plans are underway to address the problem. He alluded to the fact that Mpumuza clinic has a problem with providing appropriate spaces for patients to wait for service. Currently, patients often have to wait outside before they can be attended to, but this problem will soon be addressed, the representative promised.

The committee Members talked to patients, asking them when they had arrived and how the clinic functions. One patient, Ms Nontokozo Ngcobo, said: The staff works at the clinic; they will never leave patients unattended, [but] the clinic does have staff shortages. The minister should employ more nurses, as we come here early and are helped much later in day.

Another community patient complained about the clinic closing and not providing ambulance services at night. Still another said: We come from far away, only to be told when we arrive at the clinic that there is not medication. Some of us don't work and travelling is expensive.

The patients called on the committee to take up their concerns with the relevant authorities, so that improvements and changes can be made.

The Chairperson of the clinic committee, Mr Thamsanqa Mthembu, agreed that the clinic has challenges, but they are working hard with the community to resolve them.

Source: Parliament of the Republic of South Africa

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