Johannesburg – The Gauteng Health Department has hit back over criticism that it could never be ready for the pandemic, saying it had more beds available during the third wave than the previous two waves.
The department was responding after fierce criticism by the Young Nurses Indaba Trade Union, which said the public health sector in the province could never be ready to deal with the pandemic as the sector was plagued by shortage of staff and under-resourced hospitals, which were overwhelmed by the growing population in the province.
Gauteng Health spokesperson Kwara Kekana said despite the temporary closure of Johannesburg’s Charlotte Maxeke Hospital, which caught fire earlier this year, the province had more beds.
“Gauteng presently has more Covid-19 beds than it did in the first and second waves. Even with the decommissioned NASREC facility.
“The closure of Charlotte Maxeke has affected our available functional bed capacity we used for combating second wave,” she said.
Kekana said the department had added 750 permanent new beds at three hospitals as a response to the pandemic and said there was adequate PPE available to healthcare workers, despite the union saying the contrary.
“Gauteng Provincial government has added more permanent beds as part of the response to the pandemic, which are a long term investment into the Gauteng Health system, some of the new facilities include 300 bedded new facility at Jubilee Hospital, 300 bedded new facility at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital and 150 bedded new facility at Bronkhorspruit Hospital,” said Kekana.
On the issue of staffing shortages, the department said they had awarded a contract to two nursing agencies, as well made provisions for temporary posts for medical and non-medical staff as a response to the pandemic.
“Key amongst these include the provision of temporary posts; (we have) awarded a contract to two nursing agencies to ensure nursing capacity can be augmented within the shortest possible time.
“This is in addition to the provision of budget for vaccination and data management capacity.
“In summary the department has attempted, through-out the various waves to provide the required resources within the resources available,” she said.
Providing an update on the Charlotte Maxeke Hospital, she said the facility would be opened “in a staggered approach once all the compliance issues have been satisfied”.