DA wants probe into Addington Hospital patient death

Addington Hospital in KwaZulu-Natal one of the largest government hospitals in Durban has been under immense strain over the past year. 

And now following the alleged suicide of a patient at Addington Hospital last week the official South African opposition party, Democratic Alliance has written to KwaZulu-Natal Health portfolio committee Chairperson, Yusuf Bhamjee, to request an urgent independent committee-initiated probe into this latest incident.

The 25 year old man was found hanging in a surgical ward bathroom three days after last being seen. A well-placed source at the hospital, who asked not to be named, said the dead man was a psychiatric patient who did not want to accept his diagnosis. He was apparently meant to be discharged on Friday, but instead locked himself in the bathroom and used his belt to commit suicide.

The DA has expressed the dismay in the situation where in a properly functioning hospital a patient would never just ‘go missing’ for days without it being noticed. The body of the patient was discovered three days later when cleaning staff had to forcefully break down the door.

This is not the first time that Addington has been the scene of a so-called ‘unusual’ death. In 2014 a 34 year old female patient fell to her death in an apparent suicide after jumping from a sluice room window on the third floor.

Earlier this year the hospital was struck with an oncology crisis that‚ among other things‚ has resulted in machines at state hospitals not functioning because of a lack of maintenance and an exodus of specialists‚ which has resulted in just two cancer doctors being employed by the state – and both of them in Pietermaritzburg.

Incidents across the province of KZN

The current year has also seen several shocking incidents at other health facilities in the province. At the start of the year a patient at Townhill Hospital killed another patient. In August a patient, at Townhill again, who was supposed to be on suicide watch, stabbed himself in the chest and slit his throat. At the same time, a highly decorated policeman was tragically killed by an escaped patient from the Madadeni Psychiatric facility in Newcastle.

Staff shortages in nursing, security and doctors is wreaking havoc in the province’s facilities. Even though a Ministerial Task Team Report found that the freezing of critical posts has had a devastating effect on the delivery of proper healthcare, the Premier of the province has turned a blind eye to the suffering and plight of its citizens according to the DA. 

While the DA acknowledges that a case has been opened at the Point police station to investigate this latest death we will also call for both the health portfolio committee and the KZN Health Ombudsman to conduct a separate probe.

Source inputs: IOL, DA Media

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