DURBAN – With the number of coronavirus positive cases rising more steeply; public hospitals are running out of space.
According to earlier reports from GroundUp the number of Covid-19 patients at Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town is doubling every five days and the hospital will not be able to cope unless something is done. Mitchells Plain Hospital has reached its capacity, Tygerberg Hospital’s intensive care unit for Covid-19 patients is full. Groote Schuur is expected to start receiving many more patients from Mitchells Plain.
Following months of discussions, with private firms and medical associations ahead of a probable scenario where public hospitals run out of critical care beds. A deal has been struck between the government and private hospitals and medical practitioners to treat severely ill Covid-19 patients if public hospitals run out of space.
“An agreement has been reached on a daily fee of up to R16,000 for Covid-19 patients that get treated in critical care beds in private hospitals,” said Anban Pillay, the health ministry’s deputy director-general for national health insurance
The charge consists of the expense of utilizing the bed, paying a group of professionals to deal with the client and extra services consisting of pathology and radiology.
Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said: “The provincial department will then negotiate, hospital-to-hospital, where they need to place patients. There will never be a situation in which government facilities will run out of hospital beds, but the private sector has got beds – it will never happen like that. Especially when we need intensive care or high care – we’ll make sure those people get access at that kind of level.”
While estimates vary widely as to how many critical care beds there are in the country. A presentation from the health ministry in April put the total at around 3,300, with two-thirds of those in the private sector. Healthcare provider Netcare estimates there are some 6,000 beds, with around 3,800 in private hospitals.
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