Critically ill woman denied ICU access ‘because high-ranking ANC official was given preference’

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A critically ill woman was denied a bed in an intensive care unit (ICU) at a Free State hospital because provincial ANC officials had ordered that a high-ranking office bearer be admitted to ICU, according to a report.
The woman, a surgical patient, died in an ordinary ward at the Dihlabeng district hospital in Bethlehem, the Mail & Guardian reported on Friday.
The ANC official had a poorer prognosis, and should not have been admitted to ICU according to health guidelines, while the critically ill woman may possibly have survived had she received the care available in ICU.
The number of ICU beds at the hospital had reportedly been reduced due to financial constraints affecting the Free State provincial health department.
A doctor told the Mail & Guardian that Free State health MEC Benny Malakoane and the head of the provincial health department, David Motau, ordered that the official be admitted to ICU because they’d apparently promised this to his family. This despite an ICU consultant stating he was in the last stages of a chronic illness and was unlikely to recover.Two other critically ill patients have since been turned away from ICU while the official remains in ICU with no improvement to his condition.The provincial health department did not respond to questions about the incident.

Earlier in the week, the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) called for the suspension of Malakoane and an investigation into his conduct.

It said hospitals in the province are without doctors, water, electricity, or equipment, while others have problems such as shortages of drugs, no laundry services and no ambulances.

The province’s crumbling health system has been the subject of numerous news reports, with the SA Medical Association and DA stating that the patient lives and jobs are at risk due to financial and administrative mismanagement.

 NEWS 24
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