Patients at the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Hospital (CMJH) have been dealt a bitter blow by yet another delay in reopening the cancer unit and other badly needed beds as Covid-19 cases surge.
According to the Gauteng Infrastructure Development Department, the cancer unit will only reopen next month on 5 July.
This is despite the announcement last week by Acting Health Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane that the cancer unit would open this week. Previously, it was promised that it would be opened early this month.
The delay is blamed on outstanding requirements to receive an occupation certificate from the city of Johannesburg. This includes missing building plans and fire doors that need to be replaced.
The big question is this – why did the Johannesburg council not insist on the building plans and fire doors in previous fire safety inspections?
They didn’t do their job previously, and now they throw technical obstacles that are preventing the use of desperately needed hospital beds.
The balance of risks surely favours a temporary exemption from technical requirements and reopening those sections of the hospital that are structurally safe.
I get calls every day from cancer patients worried about their treatment. It is a matter of life or death for them.
We also need the 120 ICU beds at the hospital to save the lives of Covid-19 patients as other hospitals struggle to cope with the tsunami of Covid-19 patients.
Premier David Makhura should invoke emergency and state of disaster measures to ensure that the hospital is functioning as soon as possible.
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