Sad stories of broken phones in Gauteng hospitals

20 Jun 2022 in Press Statements

The Democratic Alliance has received a deluge of responses to my press statement about broken phones at 25 Gauteng public hospitals, with some hospitals having persistent switchboard problems for more than 10 years.

Responses include the following:

o Barbara – Absolutely appalling. After 6 hours and 30 attempts, I just gave up.

o Antoinette – Horrible! When my Sister was in Steve Biko Hospital in 2019, I couldn’t get anybody to answer the switchboard!! No matter how many times you phoned!!!

o Glen – I had to go there to check on an injured on duty worker because no joy on phones. When I got to Reception, no Computer, and they said I must go look for him 17h 00 hours. I found him sitting since 9.00am at the doctors without treatment for a serious hand injury. He stayed overnight and saw doctor the next day.

o Heather – I gave up trying to contact St John’s eye hospital at Chris Hani Baragwanath hospital. I had 5 numbers and they all rang continuously for 2 days on 2 occasions someone did answer and promptly put the phone down.

o Christal – Also gave up on hospitals, got a message my brother died, 28 April 2022, still can’t find his body, no answer at hospitals.

o Gary – Can get through to the main switchboard during office hours at the Leratong Hospital, but when put through to the wards nobody answers. After hours they don’t really even answer the main switchboard.

o Portia – They never pick up 💔💔💔

o Deleni – Even to get an appointment for colposcopy is a mission.

o William – Almost impossible to get through in an emergency, actually at any time..

o Nomathemba – 😔😔😔hv experienced it eish

o Ann – As a private nurse practitioner, I phoned to enquire about my patient. No one could help me , and I only learnt 3 days later that he had passed away.

o Beverley – Yes and at the end of 45 minutes I had called about 8 different numbers…they can’t tell you where the patient is and they keep giving you a different number to call…each time you have to give all the details, date and time of admission, name, surname, medical problem…and the 8th call you make you are given the same number for the first call you made…

o MamaKhomotso – The call is busy at the moment, please try again later, it’s so annoying.

o Doreen – Mission impossible!!!!

These responses show the distress caused by not being able to get through to hospitals to find out how relatives are doing, or to get information for medical needs.

So far this year, the Pholosong Hospital has had no landline phones for 6 weeks, the Bheki Mlangeni Hospital had broken phones for two whole weeks, Helen Joseph Hospital was cut off for 6 days and Yusuf Dadoo Hospital for 5 days.

Other hospitals have experienced the following phone problems:

• Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital – intermittent problems since 2019
• Tambo Memorial Hospital – intermittent problems for the past 5 years
• Rahima Moosa Hospital – intermittent problems for the past 4 years
• Pretoria West Hospital – intermittent problems for the past 4 years
• South Rand Hospital – intermittently for the past 3 years

The Weskoppies hospital has had intermittent switchboard problems since 2006, and Sterkfontein Hospital has been affected by this since 2012.

Even when phones are answered, there are still problems experienced with getting the right information.

It is appalling that the Gauteng Health Department has not been able to do a simple thing like getting hospital switchboards to work.

I will continue to put pressure on the department to ensure that there is reliable telephone communication at all Gauteng public hospitals.