Revealed: All Gauteng state hospitals flunk safety tests

All state hospitals in Gauteng have failed safety tests the Democratic Alliance (DA) revealed on Thursday citing a written reply from Health MEC Gwen Ramokgopa in the Gauteng Legislature.

“All Gauteng health facilities inspected by the Department of Labour for bio-hazard and other safety issues in the last three years have failed to meet the required standard,” said Jack Bloom DA Gauteng MPL.

“This is revealed by Gauteng Health MEC Gwen Ramokgopa in a written reply to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature. “According to Ramokgopa, the Department of Labour has conducted various audits, inspections and investigations covering hazardous biological agents, construction compliance, noise measurements and occupational hazards.”

Bloom quotes Ramokgopa as saying: “All the audited facilities received either a non-compliance finding, such as a contravention and/or improvement compliance notice”.

The health facilities that were inspected and found to be non-compliant on various measures include Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, Helen Joseph Hospital, George Mukhari Hospital, Pretoria West Hospital, Sebokeng Hospital, Hillbrow Community Health Centre Odi and the Temba and Cullinan Emergency Management Services (EMS) Ramokgopa reportedly attributed the failures to “old poor buildings, infrastructure and equipment” and also “ever-increasing patients load, reemerging of infectious diseases, burden of HIV and TB and general overload in our facilities”.

Bloom said he “was appalled that not a single hospital in Gauteng was compliant in the critical area of worker and patient safety”. He said hospitals that have not been inspected were “probably non-compliant in large measure”.

Bloom said it was very worrying because hazardous biological agents are infectious and toxic.

“They cause allergic reactions such as hypersensitivity pneumonitis‚ allergic rhinitis‚ some types of asthma and organic dust toxic syndrome. Non-compliance with safety standards increases the risk of health workers and patients becoming infected.”

He said the huge maintenance backlog leads to contraventions of the Occupational Health and Safety Act that increases risks such as the recent roof collapse at the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Hospital.

“I hope that the inspections are a wake-up call to the department to drastically improve safety conditions in our hospitals and clinics,” said Bloom. “The goal must be strict compliance with all safety standards.”

The health department was not immediately available for comment.

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