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By Jarryd Westerdale

Digital Journalist

Health department scrambles to solve staff and equipment crisis at Tembisa Hospital

Gauteng Health MEC confirms 104 vacancies and critical lack of equipment hampering patient care at Tembisa Hospital.

The Gauteng Department of Health (GDH) is scrambling after it was revealed the Tembisa Provincial Tertiary Hospital was failing to fill more than 100 vacancies.

DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health, Jack Bloom, raised the issue on Wednesday, outlining the 104 positions that exist within the facility’s nursing, medical, allied and support services.

In a response to Bloom’s questions about the capacity of the hospital, Gauteng Health and Wellness MEC Nomantu Nkomo-Ralehoko released a detailed breakdown of the facility’s shortcomings.

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The hospital is currently short of at least 27 nurses, seven operational managers, six medical officers, four medical specialists, three unit heads and a head of department, among other critical positions.

Additionally, the hospital has been in dire need of an EEG machine, an MRI, a pulmonary function unit, an anesthetic machine and 10 extra Bellavista ventilators.

Tembisa Hospital in crisis

Tembisa Hospital’s CEO was suspended in 2022 following allegations regarding the awarding of irregular contracts and the facility has been operating with an acting CEO since.

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Whistle-blower Babita Deokaran was infamously killed after attempting to expose the alleged corruption at the hospital which is estimated to run in the hundreds of millions.

“It is disappointing that little has been done to improve management, fill vacancies and ensure there is adequate working equipment at this hospital, which is notorious for poor patient care and overcrowding,” said Bloom.

Provincial Health Department rushes to fill gaps

MEC Nkomo-Ralehoko admitted the staff and equipment shortages were affecting patients, leading to prolonged wait times, delays in diagnosis and limited treatment options.

The GDH has responded by stating that a recruitment drive was underway.

Staff shortages have been blamed on health related issues, employees pursuing further studies and resignations.

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The department claims to have already filled five medical officer positions, as well as two operational manager positions. They added that three administrative positions have been filled, while interviews have been conducted for 16 more admin posts, along with 12 cleaning roles.  

“The department is working around the clock to fill all vacant posts. Already, four medical specialists, two assistant nursing managers, a chief physiotherapist and four middle managers have been appointed,” added the GDH.

Addressing equipment shortages

Fears over inadequate equipment were addressed by Nkomo-Ralehoko, who claimed a procurement process was nearing completion.  

“The procurement of equipment such as a pulmonary function unit, an EEG machine, and a MRI machine has been completed and is scheduled for delivery. The GDH has also received a transport ventilator and the Fabian Therapy machine,” stated the MEC.

Ensuring they are able to care for patients in immediate need, the department said Tembisa Hospital has made provisions for extra theatre tables, anesthetic machines, and ventilators on standby.