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Public Service and Administration Minister Senzo Mchunu has urged the Gauteng Department of Health to swiftly act on the recommendations contained in the report released by the Health Ombudsman.

Minister Mchunu urged the Gauteng Health Department to work towards improving the conditions and service offerings of all hospitals under its jurisdiction to prevent the repetition of such an occurrence.

This comes after an investigation was conducted on the circumstances surrounding the cause of death of Shonisani Lethole at the Tembisa Provincial Tertiary Hospital in June last year.

In his report, the Health Ombudsman noted that the Hospital was functioning with inadequate infrastructure, limited budget and human resource capacity in respect of the required skills and competence.

It was also found that the Standard Operating Procedure for the ordering of patient meals which had been developed in 2017 was not in operation as no Bed/Diet list could be produced indicating that food had been ordered for Lethole. No clear indication could be given as there were conflicting evidence given by the hospital staff.

Mchunu has read the detailed report compiled by the Health Ombudman, in terms of section 81(A) of the National Health Act, 2003 (Act No. 61 of 2003), which came as a result of a complaint by the Minister of Health, Dr Zwelini Mkhize, for the Health Ombudsman Professor Malegapuru Makgoba to carry out an investigation into the cause of death of Lethole at the Hospital.  

“The treatment of Mr Lethole is unjustifiable and does not exemplify a professional public service nor reflect the type of service to be rendered to the country’s citizens.

“The treatment Mr Lethole received is deeply regrettable. COVID-19 has placed an immense strain on the country’s resources, particularly in the health sector, however, the manner in which Mr Lethole was treated is indeed in violation of the constitutional rights afforded to South Africans and is not reflective of the Batho Pele principles which govern the public service,” Minister Mchunu said.

The late Lethole sent a tweet via the Twitter app to the Minister of Health, Dr Mkhize, advising him of the unbearable conditions at the Tembisa Provincial Tertiary Hospital stating that the staff seemingly did not care about patients and indicating that he had not eaten for 48 hours since his admission on the 23rd of June 2020.

After a detailed assessment of all factors concerning Lethole’s stay at the hospital, the Health Ombudsman concluded that the staff had provided substandard and negligented care to Lethole.

Miscommunication between doctors and the hospital staff, poor record keeping, lack of a management plan and failure to observe basic good clinical practice, are but some of the shortfalls identified during the investigation.

Minister Mchunu added that citizens of the country expect professional services from public institutions and they should be afforded such.

“The envisioned South Africa is one that is capable, developmental and ethical, boasting of a public service that is professional in all respects.

“As we continue in the fight against COVID-19, we once again thank all those who serve from the frontlines and appreciate their efforts and dedication,” Minister Mchunu said.


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