A fire safety audit was last done at the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Hospital in October 2017 but failed to pick up key deficiencies that could have prevented the devastating fire on 16 April this year.
Details of this audit are given by Gauteng Health MEC Nomathemba Mokgethi in a written reply to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature.
According to Mokgethi, this audit was done by Bigen Africa but “was not comprehensive as it did not identify the deficiencies that were highlighted by the City of Johannesburg and the appointed fire engineer by the Department of Infrastructure Development such as fire rational plan, fire doors etc.”
The problem with the fire doors is “due to changes in the industry standards e.g. the rating of the fire door has to be displayed on the door. “
There needs to be accountability for this failure to ensure that up-to-date fire safety requirements were not complied with, starting with hospital CEO Gladys Bogoshi. She should face disciplinary charges along with officials from the Department of Infrastructure Development who did not ensure that the hospital was compliant with occupational safety standards.
Meanwhile, lives are lost because the hospital’s ICU beds are not being used to treat Covid-19 patients as the third wave of infections puts intolerable strain on public hospitals.
The way forward is to use private sector expertise to speed up the safe use of specialist beds at the hospital to alleviate the suffering of hundreds of sick patients.
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