It's is World Health Day and Pippa Hudson checks-in with the Western Cape Health Department. More than 75% of the Western Cape population use state health facilities, and there are many complaints of very long waits in hospitals.
Dr Beth Engelbrecht, Head of the Western Cape Department of Health, chats to Pippa Hudson about strategies for improving the situation.
The key thing is that we are experiencing pressure. The demand on our services is more than our capability to meet that demand.— Dr Beth Engelbrecht, Head of the Western Cape Department of Health
Dr Engelbrecht explained the universally accepted Triage system which identifies patients who need the most immediate critical care through to those with less serious conditions. it's a colour coded system, and she agrees staff need to communicate this better to patients and families,
Communication to families and patients is not sufficient..it is an area for improvement.— Dr Beth Engelbrecht, Head of the Western Cape Department of Health
Patients facing life and death will always be prioritised.
But, she says, there are plans in place to improve the situation. A new hospital is being built in the Tygerberg area where volumes are highest, and the Helderberg hospital is being upgraded.
She says weekends and month ends see the highest volume of admissions to hospitals with increased cases due to interpersonal violence. The key they have flagged is alcohol abuse as a major challenge, and she says they are working with outer sectors to try and raise awareness around the dangers of alcohol.