An oversight visit by the Gauteng’s Health Portfolio Committee to Dr George Mukhari Hospital saw the result of years of mismanagement of the maintenance function by the Department of Infrastructure Development.
Despite the presence of officials from both the Department of Infrastructure Development who are responsible for maintenance, as well as officials from the Health Department who oversee infrastructure, the hospital is falling apart and is deteriorating at an increasing rate.
This is as a result of a management vacuum within both the Infrastructure Development and Health departments. Up until now, there has been no policy that defines the maintenance dynamics nor are there operating procedures that indicate how the two sets of officials who are responsible for maintenance are to work together. The result has been a total lack of integration between the departments and a downward spiral in terms of getting ahead of maintenance problems.
Broken doors, broken windows, unsanitary toilets, broken paving, leaking water pipes, building rubble and litter on the hospital site are some of the issues that confronted the committee. In response, all the officials could do was shrug their shoulders and say that the hospital is old. No accountability, no responsibility.
It was also shocking to discover that despite construction work taking place in the kitchen, that the cooking of food continued unabated. While the kitchen staff valiantly tried to manage the situation, this unprofessional approach from the Infrastructure Department was accompanied by disinformation when the department indicated that construction only took place after hours.
It is not surprising that it has been estimated that in order for 32 hospitals in Gauteng to become safety compliant, the administration needs to find R6 billion. A shrinking economy and incompetence within the public infrastructure sector are likely to make NHI a pipedream.