Patients at the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Hospital suffer from food supply disruptions, including bread and dairy products.
This is revealed by Gauteng Health MEC Nomathemba Mokgethi in a written reply to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature.
According to Mokgethi, meals are supplied by the Department’s Masakhane Cook Freeze factory, but the hospital is often told that the food supply will be interrupted on very short notice.
Furthermore, “there is limited plates/meal variety for each diet code and thus there is a lot of repetition of the meals. The factory states that they have supply chain challenges and thus a shortage of stock … the factory also has challenges with faulty equipment, intermittent water, electricity supply and shortages of staff.”
The MEC admits that “the portion sizes of the food types are too small.”
The hospital has been without sliced bread since October last year because of contract problems and financial constraints. They had to bake their own scones and rusks, and bread rolls were only delivered from 1 April this year.
Yogurt, red meat and vegetables have also run out in the last few months.
The official daily menu provided by the hospital looks good, but this is not what patients actually get. For instance, a month ago the Sunday food was as follows:
• Breakfast – porridge with a roll
• Lunch – dry mixed vegetables, cauliflower and dry cooked mielies
• Supper – an apple and a roll with a margarine tub.
I am concerned that sick patients are not getting proper nutrition to assist their recovery.
The hospital should not be forced to use the poorly managed Masakhane Cook Freeze factory. An additional issue is that the cook freeze method destroys nutrients in the food.
A complete overhaul is needed of food supply contracts to ensure that our public hospitals have fresh and healthy food for patients.