No change in Butterworth patient backlog

A number of patients try to get comfortable for the night on the hard benches at Butterworth Hospital last week.
A number of patients try to get comfortable for the night on the hard benches at Butterworth Hospital last week.
Image: Sino Majangaza

Patients continue to suffer at Butterworth Hospital, where sleeping on floors and chairs remains the norm.

Two weeks ago, the Dispatch revealed how patients were forced to spend the night at the hospital without adequate sleeping facilities as they had not been seen by a doctor, nor received their medication.

The Dispatch visited the hospital again on Thursday and found the situation had not changed at all, with many patients still sleeping on floors and chairs.


When the Dispatch arrived at about 8pm, Nozolile Peter and her son Bongani Peter, of Willowvale, had been waiting for hours for someone to see them.

Nozolile said she arrived at the hospital after 1pm after waiting for an ambulance that she called at 7am. Bongani was suffering a severe bout of flu.

“They have not done anything on him. I cannot go back with him because I will have to come back tomorrow.

“The best solution is to sleep here,” she said.

On Friday morning, Nozolile and her son and other patients were still queuing when the Dispatch showed hospital chief executive Mluleki Duna the patients who had spent the night there.


After checking the hospital records, Duna acknowledged that the patients had arrived the day before. He apologised to the patients and said it would not happen again.

“There is no patient who must leave this hospital without seeing the doctor or getting their medication because people are rushing to go home.

“All the patients who have come through the doors of this hospital must return home with their medication,” an irate Duna said while talking to a nurse responsible for the out-patient department.

In an interview with health superintendent-general Dr Thobile Mbengashe a few hours earlier, he said people sleeping at the hospital because they had not received medication was “definitely unacceptable”.

“It is not acceptable to our patients,” he said.

Mbengashe blamed the hospital management.

“It is not a staffing problem and has got nothing to do with medicine.

“It is the management of the hospital,” he said.

He pledged to visit the hospital in two weeks time to sort out the issue.

The long-term solution was to bring services closer to people so that they did not have to travel to get them, he said.

“We are finding that the queues that are so long are caused by something that can be fixed. Some patients come to hospitals not because they are sick, but to collect their medication,” he said.

Mbengashe said there was previously a problem with the pharmacy, which operated between 8am and 4pm.

“Once it was knock-off time, they closed up. I asked the CEO to fix that. If the pharmacist does not want to stay, let us get someone who is ready to serve our people,” he said.