Addington Hospital has come under intense criticism after allegations surfaced that Covid-19 patients in isolation at the Durban hospital were not being provided with meals.
The IFP has called for the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health to investigate the allegations, saying it was “outrageous” that sick patients were left to starve.
However, the KZN Department of Health last night rejected the allegations, describing them as a desperate attempt by the IFP to become part of the public discourse on Covid-19.
The IFP’s KZN spokesperson on health, Ncamisile Nkwanyana, said she had been inundated with calls from concerned patients who informed her that on Monday morning they didn’t eat breakfast, while others ate only porridge.
Nkwanyana said when contacted, those responsible in the isolation department at the hospital admitted that some patients ate porridge, while others did not eat at all due to a shortage of food provided by the designated catering company.
“One wonders for how long this has been happening, and is enough food not available for all the patients being treated?
“It’s totally outrageous that hospital management has allowed this to happen,” she said.
The party said the provincial MEC of Health, Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu, should inform the public about the plans that were in place to ensure that patients in isolation were provided with food every day.
Nkwanyana said swift action should be taken against the hospital management for negligence and failure to monitor the provision of food to those in isolation at their facility.
She said the investigation should explore whether the catering company responsible for providing food at the hospital should also be held accountable.
The party called for the dismissal of the hospital management, saying they had brought the health-care facility into disrepute.
“Our community can no longer afford to suffer at the hands of incompetent hospital management.
“Public hospitals are in dire need of competent leadership.
“Those causing havoc in our health-care facilities must be weeded out, without fear or favour,” she added.
In a statement, the Health Department said the hospital management had strongly denied any allegation that the patients in isolation were “starving” and had instead confirmed that the patient referred to in this incident was at no point admitted to the isolation unit.
“The isolation unit is for patients who are Covid-positive, and the single patient the IFP is referring to – who is an employee of an IFP official – is still waiting for her results.
“In line with legislation, and out of respect for the privacy of the patient, the department is unable to reveal confidential clinical details of the patient.
“Nevertheless, her clinical management included observation and a plan for an ultrasound if her medical condition necessitated it.”
The department said health-care professionals duly gave an instruction that she was not to be given meals until she had been seen by a doctor.
“This was explained to the patient, and is standard procedure ahead of certain medical interventions.”