Addington Hospital ‘unusual’ death not the first one

by Dr Imran Keeka – DA KZN Spokesperson on Health

The Democratic Alliance has written to KwaZulu-Natal Health portfolio committee Chairperson, Yusuf Bhamjee, to request an urgent independent committee-initiated probe following the alleged suicide of a patient at Addington Hospital last week.

The 25 year old man was found hanging in a surgical ward bathroom three days after last being seen.

The DA regards this incident as deeply disturbing. In a properly functioning hospital a patient would never just ‘go missing’ for days without it being noticed. The fact that it took three whole days before cleaning staff broke down the door points to gross negligence on the part of medical staff overseeing this ward.

This is not the first time that Addington has been the scene of a so-called ‘unusual’ death. In 2014 a 34 year old female patient fell to her death in an apparent suicide after jumping from a sluice room window on the third floor.

The current year has also seen several shocking incidents at other health facilities in the province. At the start of the year a patient at Townhill Hospital killed another patient. In August a patient, at Townhill again, who was supposed to be on suicide watch, stabbed himself in the chest and slit his throat. At the same time, a highly decorated policeman was tragically killed by an escaped patient from the Madadeni Psychiatric facility in Newcastle.

Staff shortages in nursing, security and doctors is wreaking havoc in the province’s facilities. Even though a Ministerial Task Team Report found that the freezing of critical posts has had a devastating effect on the delivery of proper healthcare, the Premier of the province has turned a blind eye to the suffering and plight of its citizens. It is unacceptable to have such an uncaring government.

MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo has been proved equally uncaring. The nonchalant attitude of the ANC government is cause for great.

While the DA acknowledges that a case has been opened at the Point police station to investigate this latest death we will also call for both the health portfolio committee and the KZN Health Ombudsman to conduct a separate probe.

We also expect MEC Dhlomo to provide answers to the deceased’s family who are no doubt in a state of severe anguish over what has happened within these hospital walls. We also expect the MEC to ensure that those responsible for overseeing this particular ward are suspended pending the outcome of an investigation.

The people of KZN deserve a caring and compassionate government that puts its citizens first. The people of KZN deserve a DA-run government to ensure a new beginning for all.

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