The Hospital Association of South Africa (HASA) has hit back at Eskom for initiating power cuts in two municipalities in Mpumalanga, saying that it may seriously affect private and public hospitals serving these areas.

Eskom is initiating power cuts in Doornpoort, Churchill, KwaGuqa, Witbank and Ermelo in response to outstanding debt to the electricity provider, which is reported to be in the region of R1 billion.

The hospitals potentially affected by the power cuts include eMalahleni Private Hospital; eMalahleni Day Hospital; De La Vie Day Hospital; Highveld Eye; M Care Highveld Sub Acute; Cosmos Life; Anglo Coal Highveld Hospital (Mine Hospital;  Eden Park; and Provincial Hospital.

All hospitals operate on a two tiered system of power supply; the first being the power grid and the second being generators. When in generator mode, hospitals are relying on a single tier of power.

According to HASA, private hospitals routinely prepare for such eventualities through stringent maintenance of generators and stocking of fuel but the situation is clearly not desirable. Generators are not long-term solutions to the situation and may constitute an on-going risk to patients and those seeking medical assistance, including those who may need critical care.

Once more, since the municipalities don’t have the money to repay Eskom, it’s reasonable to conclude that this matter may take some time to resolve, adding more stress to the hospital’s power supply.

“It is therefore a matter of urgency that the Government acts through its relevant agencies to restore power to affected hospitals to ensure the provision of healthcare is not compromised,” said Executive: Public Affairs at HASA, Mark Peach.

“Similarly, it is urgent that Eskom recognises that the provision of healthcare through affected hospitals should not be compromised because of the failure of municipalities to resolve their debt obligations. The municipality and Eskom are urged to find ways to resolve the impasse so that none of the healthcare requirements of the residents of eMalahleni and Mpumalanga are jeopardised,” concluded Peach.

This article was updated on 21 February 2017. 

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