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Dept slammed over ‘pamper party’

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The party was “blown away by the Health Department’s misguided attempt to merely try and rub away the very serious grievances of staff”

File image. Picture: Reuters

WHO PAID for the recent pamper party hosted for overworked staff at the dilapidated Tshwaragano Hospital in Batlharos?

This is the question being asked by the DA, which said yesterday that it appeared that all staff at the facility were invited to receive a 10 to 15 minute head, neck, back and shoulder massage.

“The free massage apparently formed part of a stress management programme that was undertaken in October this year by a beauty spa in Pretoria in conjunction with the Department of Health, as part of the employee assistance programme.”

DA provincial leader Andrew Louw said yesterday that the party was “blown away by the Health Department’s misguided attempt to merely try and rub away the very serious grievances of staff”.

Louw pointed out that last week staff at the hospital embarked on strike action at the facility because of the department’s failure to address the countless challenges faced by staff.

“Not only are staff overworked, but old infrastructure, the extent of the lack of available ambulances, operational equipment as well as out-of-stocks of medical supplies and medication, have made conditions hazardous for patients and staff alike,” Louw said.

He added that the hospital’s operating theatre was forced to close its doors in August this year. “This meant that patients from the approximately 40-bed maternity ward had to be transported a distance of 20 kilometres to the Kuruman hospital for caesarean sections, and then transported back again, with their newborn babies, on a very bumpy road.”

According to Louw, there was a rise in the maternal and infant mortality rate in the JTG region.

“Surely money spent on massages would have served the staff much better if it had rather been utilised to procure critical equipment such as a resuscitation machine, or if it was used to fix the frequent laundry problems that see linen being transported all the way to Postmasburg for washing.

“The money could even have been used to put up a roof between the main hospital and the operating theatre, to prevent patients from raining wet when being transported from the one building to the other.”

The spokesperson for the provincial Department of Health, Lebogang Majaha, said in response that MEC Mase Manopole had taken note of the serious allegations levelled against the department by the DA.

“This is just another attempt by Andrew Louw to discredit the ANC-led government’s NHI plan and making sure that it’s not supported, as it seeks to benefit all South Africans, based on their health needs, irrespective of their socio-economic status,” Majaha said.

He added that Manopole would invite Louw to accompany her to the facility, especially the theatre and laundry units, adding that they were fully functional.

“With regards to addressing infrastructural issues, there is a conditions-based maintenance contract in place between the department and service providers,” he stated.

Majaha added that the pamper party was a free offer and no expenses were incurred by the department.