Three TB hospitals shut down

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Pretoria - Three TB hospitals in Gauteng have been closed to channel resources to where they are needed most.

The Gauteng Department of Health and Social Development closed down the Charles Hurwitz TB Hospital in Soweto, the Tshepong TB Hospital in Pretoria and the East Rand TB Hospital in Ekurhuleni last month. The TB patients and staff were moved to existing district hospitals.

The department said the decision was taken with a view to save more money and channel resources to where they are needed most. "They were under-utilised over the years with a bed occupancy of between 40 and 45 percent," it said.

The department will save approximately R3 million a year, which was the amount used to rent these hospitals. This amount excludes other operational costs such as equipment, food and staff salaries.

"This much needed income will be used in the department's plans to strengthen primary health care as that is where most TB patients are tested and treated. As TB is properly managed at that level, the need for patients to be hospitalised is minimal," it said.

A task team comprising of hospital services directorate, human resources, organised labour organisations, infrastructure, occupational health, environmental health, TB programme and CEO's of affected hospitals has been established to oversee the transfer of staff.

The team will ensure the affected staff members are not disadvantaged and TB patients needing hospitalisation continue to receive quality health care.

The department said the hospitals closure was also attributed to the province's 80 percent TB cure rate as more and more people are testing for TB and completing the six-month treatment.

The facilities were also in a poor state due to poor maintenance over the years and the state of the facilities had become inhabitable for both patients and staff.

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