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Compiled by Devina Haripersad

Health Department takes action to prevent food shortage for patients

The MEC says that oversight visits to ensure provision of quality food for patients was to become a regular feature.

The Gauteng Department of Health is setting out to ensure patients are not left to starve.

This is according to MEC for Health and Wellness, Nomantu Nkomo-Ralehoko. She was speaking on the back of the allegations of food supply shortage at Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital.

ALSO READ: Gauteng Health Department denies it’s facing a financial crisis

“As part of my regular service delivery oversight visits to our health facilities, I had an opportunity to engage with the team here at Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital (CHBAH) on a number of matters including the burning issue of the allegations of essential food shortage in the facility,” she said.

Nkomo-Ralehoko explained that as a result of the complaints received, the oversight visits to ensure provision of quality food for patients was to become a regular feature in local government’s weekly programme.

Steve Biko Academic Hospital

She confirmed that they would also be extending the oversight visits to the Steve Biko Academic Hospital in Tshwane.

“Upon my deployment in the portfolio of Health and Wellness in October 2022, I made an undertaking to strengthen governance areas. Central to this is the issue of Finance and Supply Chain Management processes and our relationship with our suppliers,” she said.

She said that they were making progress towards their efforts to realign the Finance and Supply Chain component, aiming to resolve problems related to supplier payments and lack of supplies delivered by contracted service providers.

ALSO READ: Gauteng Health denies food shortage at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital

“I was made aware over the weekend by the hospital management of the challenges and inconsistency when it comes to supply of groceries at CHBAH and the contingencies that they had put in place to ensure that patients’ meals continue to be provided.

“I am well aware that more or less around this time last year, towards the end of the financial year, the department faced similar challenges,” she said.

Key issues

Amongst the key issues that the hospital management highlighted to the MEC, which she acknowledged would be addressed, was the poor contract management and timely escalation matters where there are challenges.

“The fact that the facility did not have enough cold storage capacity to order food supplies in large quantities; and finally the limited capacity of suppliers, where some of the suppliers were over contracted and could not keep up with the demands of the facility in terms of the orders being made.

“I need to reiterate once more that, from the update received, we can confirm that while the situation at Bara is not ideal, there is no patient that went through a day without receiving their meals. As things stand all meals have been provided to date including special meals,” she confirmed.

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