By Staff Writers

Queen ‘Mamohato Memorial Hospital (QMMH) has had to declare a black alert this week after becoming so overcrowded with patients that it could not accommodate any more.

The bed capacity has been reached and any patients arriving at the hospital will have to be taken to other hospitals.

This means the system is under severe pressure and might be unable to deliver certain actions and comprehensive emergency care.

It also means there is potential for emergency care and safety to be compromised.

The hospital’s spokesperson Mothepane Thahane on Tuesday appealed to people to only go to QMMH with life-threatening emergencies and consider the wide range of alternative services.

Known widely as Tšepong, QMMH is the country’s main referral healthcare facility and provides much better quality of care.

The better quality of care provided by Tšepong has led many patients to seek treatment directly and bypass other hospitals.

People pay the same fees for care at QMMH as they do at any other hospitals in the country. Given the choice, people are seeking to be treated Tšepong

Unnecessary or wasteful referrals by district hospitals also lie behind the hospital’s congestion.

It treated 27,000 inpatients and nearly 350,000 outpatients in 2015 alone.

The state-of-the-art 425 bed hospital opened doors in October 2011 to replace the aging and outdated main public hospital, Queen Elizabeth II.

It features eight operating rooms, a maternity wing including a 40-bed nursery, a 10-bed adult Intensive Care Unit, an ophthalmology unit and a well-trained, privately-managed cadre of health care professionals.

An independent study conducted by Boston University found that the Tšepong delivered significantly more services and services of higher quality in 2012 than at baseline comparison of the Queen Elizabeth II.

It is a Public Private Partnership (PPP) run by the Tšepong consortium of five companies under an 18-year contract at the end of which the hospital passes into government full ownership.

Government pays the company operating the hospital an annual unitary payment as part of the contract.

The unitary fee under the original tender catered for 16,000 inpatient admissions and 278,000 outpatient visits per year.

For the same fee, Tšepong committed to treat 20,000 inpatients and 310,000 outpatients per year.

Treatment of more than these volumes entitles the Tšepong to an incremental payment per patient.

The volume of patients has significantly exceeded these parameters in every year of the contract’s operation since 2011.

The charges for excess patients now make up a huge 19 percent of Tšepong’s fees charged.

In March this year, Deputy Prime Minister Monyane Moleki told Parliament government owed Tšepong M400 million for excess patients. NW

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