Despite promises that the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Hospital will be fully repaired by the end of next year, the fire safety measures will only be achieved in February 2026.

This is revealed by Gauteng Health MEC Nomantu Nkomo-Ralehoko in an oral reply to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature last week.

According to Nkomo-Ralehoko, the repairs to Blocks 4 and 5 are scheduled for completion in December 2023, but “the fire completion work in Block 1 to 5 and administration relating to the non-compliance findings by the City of Johannesburg will be completed by 26 February 2026.”

The reason for the delay in installing fire safety measures is that patients in each of the 5 blocks will be decanted for six to eight months for each block.

The faster option recommended by the project management team was that two blocks be worked on simultaneously, but this would have required the decanting of services to other hospitals.

Clinicians at the hospital opted to keep all the services at the hospital, which means that only one block at a time can be worked on, instead of multiple blocks at the same time.

Unfortunately, there will be disruption for patients moved from block to block as the fire safety measures are put in.

Nkomo-Ralehoko gives the total cost at R1 billion, but this could change due to private donations including the Solidarity Fund and the Gift of the Givers.

It is disappointing that there will be more delays to ensuring that this hospital is fully repaired with fire safety installations to prevent a repeat of the devastating fire last year.

The DA advocates catch-up measures to cut the huge waiting lists for surgery at this hospital, including the payment of private hospitals to do operations for public patients.

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Jack Bloom MPL

Democratic Alliance Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health

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