Media Release by The Health Department: ADDINGTON HOSPITAL FIRE UPDATE


03 JULY 2019

KWAZULU-NATAL Health MEC Ms Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu has voiced her unhappiness over the erratic functioning of lifts at Durban’s Addington Hospital. The MEC wants to know why the service provider responsible for the servicing, repair and maintenance of the lifts cannot ensure that the lifts are always working – just like those at the many top hotels situated along the beachfront, which they are responsible for.

Yesterday scores of patients – including newborn babies and children – had to be evacuated from the 7th, 9th and 13th floors of hospital, following a fire that started from a pile of garbage next to a service lift. For quite some time, the 140 year-old hospital has been plagued by the malfunctioning of lifts, which has at times affected the movement of patients, staff, visitors as well as the delivery of food to patients, and removal of garbage.

During a visit to the hospital earlier today, MEC Simelane-Zulu instructed senior management of the Department to act speedily to ensure and sustain the smooth functioning of the lifts.

“Following yesterday’s fire, we thought it was necessary for us to come and see for ourselves what actually happened. The briefing that we received is that the fire started just outside the service lift, which was not working at the time and had not been working for a number of days. Unfortunately, the garbage that actually comes out of the wards is kept next to the service lift if it is not working. Now, that is where the fire came from.

“Of course, we are told this was not the first time in the hospital that they’ve had a fire. We have requested the Head of Department and senior management to investigate what led to the fire, because it’s a matter that we need to deal with.

“However, we understand that there are other underlying circumstances that are going to have to be dealt with by the Department. One of them is the fact that the lifts in this hospital are generally a problem, and there is one service provider that is giving us a shoddy service, to say the least.

“We are going to engage with that service provider and relook into the contract and what can be done because they are providing us with a service and we are paying as we should. We think they should be giving us the level of service that we are paying for. We understand that we are at the beachfront, where there are a number of tourist attractions and hotels (whose lifts are always working), and it gives us an impression that as a Department we are not a priority to this service provider. As a result, our people are disadvantaged. So we are going to engage with them. I know that the department engaged with the same service provider last year, and they committed to change their service and do things better, but that hasn’t happened.

“We are taking serious exception to that. We will be talking to them, and we will do what needs to be done legally to get a proper level of service because the poor people who are using this hospital deserve better. There is no-one in this world who will walk up all those flights of stairs when they are sick, and we shouldn’t expect our people to undergo the same thing.”

The MEC also interacted with – and congratulated – some of the nurses who were instrumental in the safe evacuation of patients.


Issued by the KZN Department of Health

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