Changes aimed at improving healthcare services in Newcastle and its neighbouring towns are set to be implemented, as announced by Nomagugu Simelane, the MEC for KwaZulu-Natal Health, during the issuance of the 2023/2024 budget policy statement on Wednesday, 19 April 2023.
Simelane highlighted that three years ago, the Department had announced its intention to upgrade the package services at four hospitals from a district to regional level, namely Vryheid, Dundee, Bethesda, and Christ the King hospitals.
Despite disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Simelane reported on the progress made on this project, including the completion of condition assessments in October 2022 and the finalization of proposed new bed numbers for each hospital.
The proposed bed number changes are as follows:
- Bethesda Hospital from 200 to 300 beds.
- Christ the King Hospital from 210 to 300 beds.
- Dundee Hospital from 204 to 270 beds.
- Vryheid Hospital from 338 to 540 beds.
Furthermore, Simelane announced that the Dumbe CHC will be upgraded from a CHC to a district hospital in the current financial year, aimed at providing better healthcare services to the people of Dumbe.
In addition to upgrading hospitals, Simelane emphasized the Department of Health’s determination to take decisive action against maternal and child mortality, as enshrined in the South African Constitution. She stated that the Government and individuals in South Africa have a responsibility to protect individuals’ right to life and reduce maternal and child mortality in KwaZulu-Natal.
To address this, the Department of Health has established On-Site Midwife-Led Birthing Units (OMBUs) as a pilot project at Prince Mshiyeni Memorial Hospital in eThekwini and Newcastle Hospital, two of the busiest hospitals in the Department of Health. The objective of these units is to improve the quality of care during labor and delivery, reduce pressure and overcrowding in labour wards, and provide midwifery care to low-risk women.
Simelane stated that the pilot project is being implemented at Prince Mshiyeni Memorial Hospital, which delivers an average of 1000 babies per month, and at Newcastle Hospital, which delivers an average of 700 babies per month. The Department’s ultimate goal is to establish these units in all busy hospitals to reduce the risks associated with childbirth.
Simelane also mentioned the renaming of Niemeyer Hospital in eMadlangeni (Utrecht) as part of the Department’s efforts to reclaim the history of leaders by renaming hospitals, buildings, and public amenities after them. She stated that renaming institutions helps to give communities a sense of identity, belonging, and pride, and preserves the names of these leaders for current and future generations. The new name of Niemeyer Hospital will be announced later.
These changes in local medical facilities have been met with varying opinions from the public. Share your views on the above-mentioned changes in the comment section below.