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Exempt all healthcare facilities from load shedding as patients lives are being endangered, urges HPCSA

Exempt all healthcare facilities from load shedding as patients lives are being endangered, urges HPCSA

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Pretoria – The current wave of load shedding and varying stages of power outages unleashed by power utility Eskom have not spared hospitals across South Africa, already haunted by a plethora of challenges.

Professor Simon Nemutandani, president of the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA), said the power outages had created greater strain on the already over-stretched healthcare system.

“Load shedding has negatively impacted the provision of quality care in all our health facilities and placed an enormous strain on health practitioners and their daily routine of work.

“Healthcare practitioners in the hospitals are unable to perform emergency surgeries timeously because of load shedding and this has put the lives of the patients at risk,” he said.

These health facilities are also platforms used for undergraduates’ internships and postgraduate training of health professionals who are also negatively affected by load shedding.

“More than 80% of South Africans are reliant on public healthcare services and load shedding and the lack of a robust contingency plan has proved to be catastrophic in the healthcare environment, with varied and far-reaching consequences.

“There are approximately 420 state-run hospitals and more than 3 000 state-run clinics across the country,” said Nemutandani.

“While private facilities, secondary and tertiary level public hospitals appear to be well equipped with generator banks… power supply interruptions place critically ill patients who are dependent on life-support machines at risk. The performance and life span of medical equipment and devices are negatively affected by power interruptions.”

In addition, Nemutandani said smaller healthcare facilities, including primary healthcare clinics which are not equipped with generator banks, were often left in the dark.

“The HPCSA calls for all hospitals, clinics and other health facilities to be exempt from loadshedding. We remain confident that a collective effort on this call will undoubtedly lead to the improvement of our healthcare services,” he said.

“The HPCSA will endeavour by care and diligence to guide the healthcare practitioners to protect the public.”

The HPCSA is mandated to regulate the health professions in the country on aspects pertaining to education, training and registration, professional conduct and ethical behaviour, ensuring continuing professional development (CPD), and fostering compliance with healthcare standards-protecting the public and guiding the profession.

The Cabinet meeting led by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Wednesday to look into different issues, chief among them them electricity crisis bedevilling South Africa, has “expressed regret” over the blackouts.

Cabinet spokesperson Phumla Williams said the executive heard a briefing presented by Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan on the capacity of Eskom.

“Cabinet expressed regret that intermittent load shedding is happening at the time when government is vigorously engaged with the interventions announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa in July to overcome the energy crisis facing the country,” Williams said.

Earlier this week, it was reported that Ramaphosa had cut short his working visits to the US and the UK following growing calls for him to deal with South Africa’s deepening power crisis.

Ramaphosa met President Joe Biden in Washington for bilateral talks last week, before flying to London to attend the state funeral of Queen Elizabeth II, on Monday.

Presidency spokesperson Vincent Magwenya said on Monday morning: “The president will no longer be travelling to New York from London. Instead, he will head home to deal with the current Stage 6 load shedding.”

Load shedding was downgraded to Stage 5 earlier this week, Eskom said on Monday, after implementing Stage 6 on Sunday morning.

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