SA hospitals warn of crisis – oxygen supplies compromised, food supplies running out

Doctors unable to reach hospitals, food supplies running out and pharmaceutical and oxygen supplies being compromised are among the dire consequences facing hospitals in areas afflicted by unrest, the National Hospital Network (NHN) has warned.

The organisation has appealed to the government to provide on-site security to private and public hospitals, and provide SAPS or SANDF escorts for medical supplies, food, clean linen and other essentials.

NHN chief executive Neil Nair was quoted by IOL as saying: ‘Some of our doctors have reported that they too are unable to reach hospitals. Food supplies are running out at some of our hospitals, and pharmaceutical and oxygen supplies are compromised as these stocks are supplied via Durban.’

Nair said the NHN also wanted hospital communications and IT systems to be secured. The Melomed Richards Bay Hospital lost communication capabilities after fibre lines were destroyed.

The NHN, which represents 241 private hospitals nationally, said hospitals were facing dire staff shortages and some health-care workers had to sleep at the hospitals.

IOL reported that the KZN Department of Health said many hospitals, community health centres and clinics across KwaZulu-Natal had been operating with skeleton staff. Many nurses, doctors, allied health workers and support staff were unable to report for work due to the blockades, as well as lack of public transport.

KZN Department of Health spokesperson Ntokozo Maphisa was quoted as saying: ‘In some instances, vehicles were barred from delivering much-needed oxygen that was intended for use by patients battling Covid and other ailments.’

An ambulance was burnt in Howick, while another was stoned in Mariannhill.

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