MPs’ Unannounced Visit To Hospital ‘Unethical’

PICTURE: Jeffrey Abrahams

CAPE TOWN: Parliament’s select committee on petitions and executive undertakings has come under fire from the SA Medical Association (Sama) for conducting an unannounced visit to the Khayelitsha District Hospital.

Parliament’s select committee on petitions and executive undertakings conducted the visit earlier this month. This follows a complaint accusing the hospital of negligence, and findings of poor and incomplete record keeping.

The committee found various issues hampering services at the hospital, including staff shortages.

The SAMA says it supports oversight visits to public facilities as they strengthen democratic accountability.

SAMA vice chairperson Mark Sonderup, however, says the recent unannounced visit by the parliamentary committee at the Khayelitsha district hospital turned into an attack on the dignity of staff and patients.

“This committee is from a non-health portfolio. They caused a significant commotion. They demanded to see the CEO. They arrived unannounced and started badgering staff.”

Sonderup says access to clinical areas where patients are treated should occur together with the attending doctor and with permission from patients.

The committee has denied being confrontational with staff during the visit, adding that the medical employees spoke freely about the issues facing the hospital.

“The committee would like to state that no staff members were “confronted” as alleged by Dr Engelbrecht. The committee, guided by the hospital Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Dr Anwar Kharwa, spoke to various head nurses about the challenges faced in their various departments. Nurses spoke freely of the serious challenges not only hampering service delivery, but causing a strain on hospital personnel,” the committee chairperson, Dumisani Ximbi said. 

The “committees of Parliament are constitutionally mandated to perform oversight over the work of all organs of state, including those at provincial and local government level”. Committees will not waiver from this important responsibility, especially when it relates to complaints of neglect and poor services delivery as received not only from Ms Nobuntu Fuzani, but also from various other stakeholders including the Khayelitsha Development Forum,” he added.