Government Hospitals suck

Daily Prompt: Right to Health

by michelle w. on February 7, 2013

Is access to medical care something that governments should provide, or is it better left to the private sector? Are there drawbacks to your choice?

Warning: rant ahead

My short answer to this question is; yes it should be provided by Government and it is but unfortunately there are major drawbacks. As the penguin on Happy Feet would say, “let me tell something to you!”

Government Hospitals SUCK!

I’ll elaborate; true, Government Hospitals provide every, almost everything the private hospitals do for a fraction of the cost or for free. And that’s fantastic, in fact its imperative but instead of a monatary cost, there are other costs, costs to your human rights and costs to your dignity. There are many reasons why Government Hospitals have a lot of cleaning up to do. There’s a lack of resources, equipment and vital materials needed to run such a facility. Secondly there’s a lack of staff that run the place efficiently, which could be the cause of my next point; the attitude of the staff stinks!

Seriously, the compassion or lack thereof coming from the people who are treating you when you are in your most vulnerable state, the same people you are putting your trust in, have the ability to either make your experience that much less upsetting or it could scar you for life (pun intended).

As an almost middle, working class citizen of a third world country, I’ve had experiences in both facilities and the difference is vast. When mentioning the words, Government Hospital in Cape Town, the first visual that comes to mind is an overcrowded, unhygienic, disorganized building. Maybe you’ll see a guy with an axe in his back waiting to be seen to, maybe you see a patient on a bed laying in someone elses blood or his own urine, you’ll definitely see arguments break out with receptionists and if you lucky, you’ll be seen to within a couple of hours.

When I was pregnant I attended a public hospital. I had to take a full day’s leave from work to get a scan, because the only two staff members there, would go on a lunch break at the same time for hours on end. You never see the same doctor twice and never know who’s in charge of what because frankly nobody wanted to be responsible for anything.

The 2 days I was in labour were probably the worst two days of my life. I went in at 10 pm on a Tuesday night and was told to sit down on a plastic chair in a passage along with a row of other pregnant women (some women stood because there weren’t enough chairs). There I sat for 12 hours before anyone examined me. I couldn’t go home or even wait in my car, they wouldn’t let me leave. Do you know what it’s like to sit on a hard plastic chair throughout the night when you’re in labour and have been awake since 1 am the previous morning? Apparently there weren’t any beds and the empty beds I saw in a room next to the bloody (literally) bathroom  was reserved for patients who were admitted for C-sections or something, I’m not sure they didn’t explain, but merely mumbled something when I asked.

Keep in mind the only reason I was at this specific hospital was because I was a ‘high risk’ patient, shouldn’t that have been an indication that I needed better care than a ‘low risk’ patient? Nonetheless the next day at 12 in the afternoon I was examined and the nurse attending me acted as if I was a fly in her face, she wanted me to buzz off. While examining me, she was so rough she broke my water by mistake and when a yelled in pain, the nurse adjacent to us reckoned  “oh no, that’s not necessary, (my raised voice) if you’re yelling like that already…” Weren’t these people here to reassure me that everything was going to be ok, instead of berate me for expressing the pain I was in?

Adding the lack of sleep and physical exhaustion from the labour; that mistake led me to have a complicated birth. Never mind the fact that they left me alone on the birthing bed a number of times, (yes, just walked away) before coming back and telling me to push properly unless I wanted my baby to die! Lets just say it was extremely traumatic.

I was told that after I gave birth (8 pm Wednesday night) I’d have to get up and go back to the plastic chair I was sitting on in the passage because they needed the bed. And at that point my husband was told to leave and come back visiting hours. Luckily it was quiet that night and after telling them that I was actually a heart arrhythmia sufferer they allowed me to stay on the bed until morning.  A porter was kind enough to give me an aspirin for my pain. Taking into consideration I now had stitches in my nether regions I was told to get off the bed and was left to roam the building for the rest of the day because it took them another 6 hours to book me out and by the way, I wasn’t even booked IN in the first place. I had a bout of post traumatic stress after that, I remember crying when my baby needed me to breastfeed because I didn’t want him near me, he reminded me of the hospital!

In a private facility, you’re greeted with a smile, told where to go and seen to within one hour. The place is comfortable and almost like a home away from home. You’re treated with respect and reassured on every turn, you’re never afraid to ask questions and know who to contact when you’re in need of anything.

Why does it have to be that way? There are good people working in the government health department but they are far and few between. I believe that if the staff just changed their attitude and stepped up to the responsibility they chose in life, then things would be a lot better.


20 responses to “Government Hospitals suck

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  2. I hate government hospitals in Cape Town. They’re dirty [there were cockroaches in the bathroom] and the doctors and nurses are either nonchalant or really rude or don’t know what’s going on. There’s such a huge contrast between the public and private hospitals…it’s pathetic really..& it’s horrible that you went through such an experience. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone and sadly it happens to a lot of people.

    • I even told my family after that, if ever something happened to me, I’d rather die then go to a government hospital. Its funny now but I was serious then.

      • I don’t ever want to go to a government hospital either. If I had to remove a limb I’m sure I’d come out with the wrong limb removed. Government hospitals aren’t bad in every country though, in Qatar they have pretty good hospitals. 🙂

  3. Oh and just had to say this, there was a woman crying and screaming in the hospital bed and the nurse kept telling her to keep quiet, she even started pinching the patient’s legs. I’m sure there are good people working there but, I haven’t seen or met any.

    • I know! A woman was in pain and went to the bathroom, her husband came back and said the baby is coming. They told him that it isn’t and that she must relax… the baby was born in the bathroom!

      • That’s absolutely ridiculous. It would be funny if it werent so tragic and didn’t actually happen to anyone. I always said though that if you don’t have patience and compassion and all that, then don’t work in a hospital whether as a doctor or nurse or even a receptionist.

    • And it was the first time I gave birth, didn’t know what to expect… but now I know and I’ll rather give birth at home high risk or not. The problem is that private hospitals are very expensive, I would have had to fork out approximately R20 000.00 and some hospitals don’t take medical aid, so you have to pay cash up front and claim it back afterward from medical aid. I don’t have that kind of money laying around.

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  7. Hell if you birth at home with a midwife it won’t cost more than about R6000. I can’t imagine how you felt. What a crap experience. I’m so sorry you had such a traumatic birth experience.

    You are right about a fundamental lack of dignity in government hospitals. It is a huge problem. I also doesn’t help that the staff are overworked and underpaid.

  8. Reblogged this on and commented:
    I can’t imagine a more traumatic way to give birth. This really highlights the fundamental flaws in the public healthcare system in South Africa. I wish this didn’t happen to a friend, or any woman in labour for that matter.

  9. That is just shocking. I am so sorry you had to experience that. One would think that nurses working in obstetrics would be filled with love and gentleness should be a given. I accept that Dr and nurses are not paid well enough, but it is a profession th4 is a calling, and if you don’t want to do it, then leave.

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