Baby deaths: ‘The last time we saw a doctor here was Dec 29’
Limpopo health MEC Dr Norman Mabasa has ordered a commission of inquiry into the deaths of four babies at the George Masebe Hospital.
The four babies died between Thursday and Saturday at the district hospital, which is located about 70km east of Mokopane.
Mabasa paid the hospital an unannounced visit today, following media reports that the babies had died as a result of a shortage of doctors.
The commission, said Mabasa, should establish how many doctors were supposed to be on duty, and how many were in fact on duty at the time of the deaths.
At the hospital, Mabasa – a medical doctor by profession – grilled the management and demanded that they submit a detailed report as to what had happened to each baby. The inquiry, he said, should be completed within a week.
The nursing staff and patients told him of their frustrations as he inspected wards.
Martha Matlala, a nurse who was manning a paediatric ward said, “the last time we saw (a) doctor here was on December 29. Some of these kids haven’t seen a doctor since December 25. We are traumatised and it’s so bad that some of the parents are demanding that their kids be released since there are no doctors.”
Patients who were queuing to see doctors told Mabaso that they were told there was only one doctor.
The hospital has 38 funded posts for doctors, but has only eight doctors.
Said Mabaso: “the commission should find out if the deaths are linked to the shortages of doctors, negligence or diseases. The situation here is appalling and goes against everything we stand for as a department. Any official found to have acted negligently will be dealt with accordingly.”
He also met with the families of the babies and assured them that he would personally report to them what had happened.
“These reports have grossly shocked us; we cannot have a public health system that continues to fail the people entirely dependent on it for their health and their lives,” he said.