The Health and Allied Workers Indaba Trade Union (Haitu) holds the Gauteng department of health accountable for the death of a woman at Kopanong Hospital in Vereeniging.
Haitu said the department is failing psychiatric patients at Gauteng hospitals, creating greater danger for mentally ill patients.
It was responding to a statement issued by the hospital last week that an investigation into the woman’s death has been launched.
The 26-year-old woman, who was seven months into her pregnancy at the time of her death, was admitted to the hospital on September 8.
She was found hanging from a doek in the bathroom the next day. The woman and her unborn baby were declared dead on the scene.
She had been taken to the hospital by her mother who grew concerned about her daughter’s abnormal behaviour.
Upon arrival, the staff at the hospital recommended that the woman be sedated and restrained, noting that she was high risk.
Lerato Mthunzi, general secretary of Haitu, said the woman’s death could have been prevented if the facility was well-equipped to treat mentally ill patients.
She said for the reason that the woman was considered high risk and had to be restrained, meant she needed to be admitted into a well-equipped psychiatric ward.
“We must ask ourselves how much longer can we continue to operate as a country when the government refuses to take steps to improve the quality of healthcare?” Mthunzi asked.
“How many people must die unnecessarily in our hospitals before the state acts decisively by spending money to improve our healthcare facilities?
Mthunzi said hospitals are supposed to be places where people go for treatment and healing, not where they go to die.
“Our members [in hospitals] have to perform miracles under conditions where they are drastically short-staffed, and where there are little or no adequate facilities.”
The Gauteng health department and the Kopanong Hospital have launched an investigation into the death of the pregnant woman.
The department previously said that the patient was attended in a side ward, noting that her condition was allegedly triggered by crying babies.
The woman’s death, said the department, was immediately reported to the police and an inquest docket was opened.
It added that its quality assurance unit was also following up on the internal investigation because the case is regarded as a patient safety incident.