The Phoenix Community Health Centre (Unit 10 Clinic) is under the spotlight following complaints from local residents who said that they are frustrated with having to wait endlessly for service at the 24-hour facility. They demand answers, claiming that hundreds of patients are affected by the “poor service” on a daily basis.

Democratic Alliance Provincial Health Spokesperson, Dr Imran Keeka, said that he was currently in discussions with DA public representatives in the Phoenix area, and is scheduled to perform an oversight visit at the facility in November.

It was reported that elderly, frail and physically disabled patients alike wait in long queues at the clinic corridors in the hope of getting medical attention on the same day, but sadly a majority of these patients are not attended to – they are sent home and told to return the following day.

According to a Phoenix resident, Vinny Jagnath, on Wednesday, 10 October, he rushed his wife, who has a heart condition, to the Unit 10 clinic, after suffering a major asthma attack. Jagnath claimed, “Upon arrival at the clinic, no doctors were available to assist us until an hour later when a doctor eventually turned up. My wife was assessed and due to her deteriorating condition, she was referred to Mahatma Gandhi Hospital where she was admitted for one week before being transferred to Inkosi Albert Luthuli Hospital where her condition remains critical.

“I am saddened that many lives are put at risk on a daily basis due to medical staff who want to drag their feet when patients are sick and need help. Had my wife been promptly treated, she would be home with her children and not laying in a hospital bed.”

Jagnath claimed that at times, his wife would leave their home in the early hours of the morning and later return without being attended to. “My wife has had many unpleasant experiences at this clinic and many other patients will share the same sentiments. Some patients get sick while waiting in the queue for hours on end. Staff shortages and other burning issues at this clinic must be prioritised and addressed as hundreds of patients suffer as a result,” added Jagnath.

Another resident told The Phoenix Tabloid that his brother, who suffers with epilepsy was recently sent home twice and only received his medication on the third day. Speaking on the basis of anonymity, the man claimed, “Patients are there from 3am, waiting in winding queues, addressed by arrogant staff with only one doctor available.

“My sick brother waited in the queue from 5am to 3.45pm only to be told that the pharmacy closes at 4pm. He is an epileptic and had to stand in the blistering heat for hours.

the second day, the doctor collected everyone’s charts at 3.55pm and told patients to collect their medication the next day without conducting any assessments on patients.

“My brother has to take his medication twice daily and but due to staff shortages at the clinic, he did not have medication for almost three days. Many old and poor people go to this clinic for help, some don’t even have breakfast because they are there early every single day and they still don’t get the service.”

Keeka added that DA Councillors based in Phoenix and the Honourable George Marie have raised the issues of this and other facilities with him. “The problems of this clinic are not unique to only this facility. The medicine shortages, staff shortages and infrastructure related matters are endemic to far too many facilities in KZN. I am also scheduled to meet with residents who have raised many concerns to hear first hand what they have to say.”

Comment by the The Department of Health KZN was not forthcoming at the time of going to print.