Our hospital can’t cope, say Atlantis residents

Activists want City clinics upgraded and transferred to the province to take pressure off Wesfleur Hospital

By Peter Luhanga

14 February 2023

Atlantis community activist Allison Adams has launched an online petition calling on the City of Cape Town to transfer two clinics to the Western Cape Department of Health. Photo: Peter Luhanga

People living in Atlantis, Cape Town, say they are struggling to access healthcare. There are two clinics run by the City – Saxon Sea and Protea Park – offering limited care, concentrating on family planning, child health, basic antenatal care, and HIV care. For any other health issues, residents have to go to Wesfleur Hospital. People queue for treatment as early as 5am.

In 2017, we wrote about the long queues and other problems at Wesfleur Hospital.

Community activists have set up the Atlantis Community Health Organisation (ACHO), which submitted a memorandum of grievances in August last year to Western Cape MEC for Health Nomafrench Mbombo, and resident Allison Adams, (not part of the ACHO) set up an online petition that has garnered over 1,275 signatures.

Adams and ACHO want the two City clinics taken over by the province so that they can be upgraded to offer primary and not just general healthcare. This would take pressure off Wesfleur.

“Clinics would serve as a conduit to relieve the hospital from everyday attendance. The hospital can’t cope. We have limited number of doctors available every day,” says Ashley Poole of ACHO.

Adams says the doctors can’t cope with treating patients, doing ward rounds and conducting medical assessments for residents seeking disability grants. It takes days for people to get help at the hospital, she says, and everyone with even a minor illness has to go to the hospital.

“We have people traveling to Dunoon Community Health Center to seek medical attention,” she says.

ACHO wants a new hospital built in Atlantis, which in the 2011 Census already had nearly 70,000 people.

Mayoral committee member for health Patricia van der Ross said the City is open to transferring the clinics, but “the Western Cape health department must have the requisite budget available to continue running the clinics”. Then a handover agreement can be concluded.

She said a task team was established and “numerous meetings” were held explaining to the community the challenges involved in doing such a transfer.

One interim measure is that stable, chronic patients are seen at Protea Park three days a week on Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays between 8am and 4pm, and at Saxonsea clinic on Mondays between 8am and 1pm.

Provincial health department spokesperson Natalie Watlington said since receiving the memorandum in August 2022, the department’s district team has implemented short and medium-term interventions to improve matters at Wesfleur Hospital.