IFP: Turning Newcastle Hospital Into Mother and Child Hospital Was an Ill-conceived Decision

The IFP calls on the KZN MEC for Health, Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu, to rescind the decision taken by her predecessor, Dr S’bongiseni Dhlomo, to turn Newcastle Hospital into a Mother and Child Hospital.

This became clear in a meeting I had with concerned community members in Newcastle on Friday, 28 August. Converting the Hospital to a Mother and Child Hospital was an ill-conceived decision, as it has had a negative impact on patients.

Sick and injured people are not assisted at Newcastle Hospital; they are transferred to Madadeni Hospital, which is about 22 kilometres away. It is impractical for unemployed people to travel to Madadeni Hospital, when Newcastle Hospital is closer to them. This decision must be reversed because it does not benefit the community. The Hospital must be opened to all members of the public – not just mothers and their children – to avoid the loss of lives.

When the decision was taken to change Newcastle Hospital into a Mother and Child Hospital, former KZN MEC, Dr S’bongiseni Dhlomo, promised that sick and injured people would receive medical attention in Newcastle Hospital before being transferred to Madadeni Hospital. This is not the case. Nurses are apparently refusing to help injured people and those who require chronic medication. During the meeting I was shocked to hear serious allegations, including that Newcastle Hospital nurses refused to help a stabbing victim and an asthmatic patient. They were instructed to go to Madadeni Hospital, but allegedly died on their way.

The IFP would like to draw attention to the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, which states that “No one may be refused emergency medical treatment.” The Constitution dictates that a patient requiring emergency medical treatment should be attended to and stabilised, before such patient can be referred to the next appropriate healthcare facility.

Although Newcastle Provincial Hospital is now a Mother and Child healthcare facility, it must still attend to and stabilise all emergency patients, before transferring them. The management of the Hospital must ensure that this happens. Nurses who are found to be turning away patients in need of emergency care at any healthcare facility must be held accountable, and dismissed.

The IFP further calls upon the KZN Premier, Sihle Zikalala, and KZN MEC for Health, Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu, to intervene in this matter by ensuring that Newcastle Hospital is open to the public – not only to mothers and their children.

Mrs Ncamisile Nkwanyana, MPL
IFP KZN Provincial Spokesperson for Health
078 302 3991