CITY HOSPITAL LACKS BEDS FOR PSYCHIATRIC PATIENTS
By: Hlengiwe Jama
The Durban City Hospital doctors are complaining that the shortage of beds makes it difficult for the hospital to operate.
Doctor Valjee Ashwin of City Hospital said that his concern is that the patients do not get the service they need due to the shortage of beds.
“I have psychiatric patients who come from far places and they have to go back if the beds are full, until someone is discharged,” said Doctor Ashwin, who has written to the Department of Health in Pietermaritzburg begging them to grant more bed licenses for the hospitals.
Currently, there are only 6 licensed beds for psychiatric patients at the hospital.
Ashwin said that some patients were forced to sit in the doctors’ offices until patients are discharged so that they can be admitted.
“The issue is not that the hospital does not have beds. There are more than three beds on the 5th floor, yet I have patients waiting in my office. However, because these beds have not been licensed, they cannot be used,” said Ashwin
Senziwe Maphumulo who is a psychiatric patient said that she was rushed to City Hospital in August of this year. When she arrived in hospital the psychiatric ward was full.
“I arrived at 8 am and I was only admitted at 4pm because the beds were full. I had to wait in the doctors office. I was in a very critical condition; the doctor could not let me go and come back the next day and he requested that I wait until one of the admitted patients is discharged,” said Maphumulo.
Doctor Ashwin said that he has sent numerous letters to the KwaZulu-Natal Health Department in Pietermaritzburg.
“I have sent several messages to Doctor Sibongile Zungu, the Head of the Health Department. She responded to the letter and said that my request to extend facilities needs to be submitted by the management of these hospitals,” said Ashwin.
Ashwin added that Zungu then advised him in the same letter to discuss the request with the Joint Medical Holdings (JMH) management which can then, if they agree, send a formal application for extension of their hospitals.
Ashwin said that he has approached the hospital’s management and claims that management has also submitted a request to the Department – but to no avail.
The Department of Health did not respond to questions.