The Democratic Alliance (DA) noted the recent hospitalisation of Premier Job Mokgoro at a facility in Johannesburg, citing the “overburdened” North West health facilities as the reason for being admitted in Gauteng.
This decision highlights the fact that the North West Province is by no means ready to deal with the anticipated surge of Covid-19 patients. The 435 standard beds, 55 intensive care beds and 33 high care beds will simply not sufficiently deal with the demand.
Clearly, the Department of Health ought to focus its attention on urgently increasing hospital bed capacity while at the same time ensuring that clinics and hospitals in the province are properly equipped and resourced.
Since the inception of lockdown, Tshepong Hospital in Klerksdorp, which is the designated Covid-19 hospital in the province, has been overcast with reports of unhygienic conditions, patients being forcibly detained and staff attending to patients without the necessary Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
The recent suspension of Professor Variava after allegedly speaking up about medical shortages and other challenges faced by medical practitioners employed at the hospital, emphasises the poor state of this facility and its leadership’s unwillingness to address the issues at hand.
His reinstatement was an act of admission on the Department of Health’s part for wrongfully suspending him and serves as an acknowledgement of its failure to provide the much-needed care to patients in need.
The Department is riddled with a high number of suspended staff facing disciplinary procedures, ambulance and medicine shortages and R1.1 billion in accrued invoices to service providers that will, if not urgently addressed, lead to a complete collapse of the provincial healthcare system.
It is therefore not surprising that the Premier would choose to rather be hospitalised in another province, but it is ironic that he would choose a province that is itself overburdened with high numbers of Covid-19 cases.
This demonstrates a lack of confidence in provincial facilities, which hardly instils hope to people who have no option but to make use of North West health facilities.
Again, it goes to show that government officials and political leaders abuse their positions to secure the best quality of services while ordinary citizens have to contend with poor and substandard services.
The Premier missed an opportunity to set an example for other politicians and public representatives to experience first-hand what ordinary citizens are faced with, but we wish him a speedy recovery and safe return to North West.