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KZN can't increase hospital bed capacity due to specialist shortages, Parly told

KwaZulu-Natal’s provincial head of health, Dr Sandile Tshabalala, spelled out some of the challenges the province is facing, including a shortage of specialist nurses and doctors to allow for more beds for patients needing critical or high care.

Picture: Pexels

CAPE TOWN - KwaZulu-Natal health authorities have told Parliament that they cannot increase the number of beds for critical and high care patients due to a shortage of specialist nurses and doctors.

Parliament’s Health portfolio committee was briefed on Thursday on the province’s situation as it battles a virulent second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

KwaZulu-Natal currently has 20% of the country’s Covid-positive cases, slotting in after Gauteng, which has the most, and followed by the Western Cape with the third-highest number in the country.

KwaZulu-Natal’s provincial head of health, Dr Sandile Tshabalala, spelled out some of the challenges the province is facing, including a shortage of specialist nurses and doctors to allow for more beds for patients needing critical or high care.

Tshabalala said that the supply of oxygen was also a problem, partly due to a lack of space at hospitals for bulk storage and also because supplier Afrox is experiencing its own problems distributing oxygen cylinders.

A lengthy turnaround time before test results come through is another issue.

“We are discussing mostly with NHLS and making sure of the activation of the rapid (antigen) test but also the turnaround time for the laboratory confirmed test, we want it to be at least an hour to two hours and a person knows what is happening."

Tshabalala said that the increase in fatalities was partly due to patients delaying before seeking medical care.

Increasing infections among health care workers are causing staff shortages and putting more strain on the system.

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