The Clinical Heads of Units (CHUs)of specialist departments at Dora Nginza, Livingstone and Provincial hospitals today effectively served notice on the Easter Cape Department of Health and National Treasury by stating that asof 1 July 2012 they will only perform emergency surgery as a first priority until such time as the current staffing crisis is addressed.
The CHUs were represented by Dr Luwisile Pepeta (HOD of Paediatrics), Dr Basil Brown (HOD of Cardiology) and Dr Sats Pillay (HOD Surgery) who stated that they well well aware of their employment contract not allowing them to speak to the media but “… felt compelled to inform the public through the media”.
The full statement as read by Dr Brown follows:
We, the Clinical Heads of Units (CHUs) of specialist departments at Dora Nginza, Livingstone and Provincial hospitals – which together comprise the PE Hospital Complex (PEHC)- have, after due deliberation, decided to issue a public statement on the crisis affecting service delivery at all PEHC hospitals.
We are doing so because we feel that the Eastern Cape Department of Health (ECDOH) has proven itself to be incapable of dealing with the crisis
The crisis we face is essentially due to the fact that the ECDOH has placed a moratorium on the appointment of new junior and specialist doctors, while at the same time not renewing the contracts of doctors who have worked in our department s previously. Doctors who have left by attrition or resignation have not been replaced, despite there being willing qualified applicants. To compound matters further, the salaries of a number of doctors who have worked on a sessional basis have not been paid since January.
An equally serious situation affects the appointment other vitally important health care workers, such as nurses and pharmacists.
The outcome of this is to exacerbate the impact of the understaffing situation already existing in certain departments, while creating a similar crisis in others. If matters do not improve, levels of service will continue to drop, and there is a strong possibility of widespread resignations by disillusioned doctors in the service.
This situation is already evident in the Casualty departments at Dora Nginza and Livingstone, where there are not enough doctors to run the units.
All our specialist departments are affected to a greater or lesser degree.
All attempts from our side to convince the ECDOH of the dire consequences of this policy have fallen on deaf ears. We have also written to the Premier of the Province, Mrs Noxolo Kiviet and to the National Minister of Health Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, appealing for them to intervene in the crisis – but to no avail.
Having exhausted all avenues open to us, to persuade the powers that be to reverse this moratorium on the filling of critical medical posts, we now feel obliged to make the general public aware of the dire situation the PEHC hospitals are in.
The CHU’s have jointly come to the conclusion that the only way in which we can deal with the serious staff shortage – which is beyond our control – is to curtail the services offered by our various departments.
We are hereby serving notice that, with effect from the 1 July, we will only be able to offer emergency services to patients. For example, as in the case of the surgical disciplines, no elective or cold surgery will be performed. In other words only emergency or life-No elective or cold surgery will be performed. In other words only emergency or life-saving surgery will be performed. In addition, all non-emergency referrals from district hospitals will be stopped, and the number of patients seen at our daily or weekly clinics will be limited.
We need to emphasise that our decision to implement these drastic measures has not been taken lightly, and is being resorted to out of sheer desperation, and the determination to maintain a professional level of service commensurate with our abilities.