Today we visited Karl Bremer Hospital (KBH) located in Bellville, Cape Town in the Tygerberg Health District of the Metro Region. The facility was established June 1st, 1956 and named after a former Minister of Health, Dr. Karl Bremer.

There, the Delegates on Nursing were greeted by Miss WJ Nieuwoudt, Nursing Service Manager. According to Miss Nieuwoudt, funding comes through the Department of Health (Provincial Government of the Western Cape).


Due to the financial constraints during the past years, KBH was induced to close wards and reduce the number of beds available, which has had a serious impact on the hospital’s ability to provide services to private patients.

In addition to the financial constraints faced by KBH, they also suffer from a nurse shortage. Again, the common theme that persists is that nurses are over worked and under paid. In most cases, they accept better job offers outside of South Africa because the working conditions and the pay are better.

The situation is problematic and it is compounded by the impending public servant strike due to take place Friday, June 1st, 2007. Service workers demanded a 12% increase in the salary, but the government only approved a 6% increase, which left the meeting deadlocked. The service workers plan to strike, which will affect hospitals and clinics all over the great nation of South Africa. What this means is that the nurses who are already overworked and doing more than they are qualified to do will now have to cook, clean, change bed sheets, run errands, mop floors, and all other tasks that would be done by a public service worker.

Currently, the emergency department at KBH is 258% occupied. Even with the high capacity of patients coming in, KBH, by law can not turn away any person seeking medical assistance. There only option is to contact surrounding area hospitals to take KBH patients, but often times they do not because they are overloaded and full to capacity themselves.

I have come to my own conclusion that the South African Healthcare System is in shambles and is on the verge of collapse, unless there is a Reform of the Healthcare Policy. At this juncture, I do not know the solution to the dilemma. Do you? Help is needed here in South Africa immensely.

KBH is in great need of all medical supplies, such as retractable needles. At one time they did use them, but they can no longer afford them in their budget. Currently, the healthcare professionals are at risk of having needle stick injuries – approximately 4 to 6 per month, according to Miss Nieuwoudt.



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