Johannesburg AIDS clinic turns away patients

The moves around the clinics are thought to be the result of budgetary constraints within the health department.

Dr Clive Evian said “do-gooders and part-timers” have generally staffed the Johannesburg clinic over the years which has cut down from seeing about 120 patients per week to about 80..

“There has been very little support and almost no stability from the hospital,” he said.

The clinic operates on Tuesdays only and used to see between 15 and 20 new patients every week.

Evian, a top AIDS consultant and “part-time” doctor at the clinic, said it had become impossible to accept new patients because of the workload.

“We were starting to look at waiting lists of up to five months,” he said.

Evian said they didn’€™t know where to refer anyone. “There is no referral mechanism, not even telephone numbers or a list of where people should be referred to,” he said.

Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) spokesperson Bart Cox said nobody had a hassle with the principle of referring patients to primary health care facilities.

He said, however, that the department would have to ensure that their facilities were capable of delivering an effective service.

“This includes among others attitude (of staff), pre and post test counseling, appropriate and effective medication,” Cox said.

Evian said the clinic was missing out on excellent opportunities to become an international research centre.

“I think the hospital does not want the clinic to become a specialist clinic, but rather remain part of the outpatients department.

“There are a huge number of patients willing to engage in trials, but the hospital is not prepared to increase the clinic’€™s capacity,” a baffled Evian said.

“All they (Gauteng health department) are doing is shifting the problem out,” he added.

Numerous attempts by Health-e to get comment from the Gauteng health department officials on the future of the clinic failed.

Officials were reportedly busy with other tasks and too busy to answer queries that were faxed to their office over a week ago.

Speaking from Durban, TAC co-ordinator Zackie Achmat said the only treatment available for anyone identified with HIV/AIDS was through King Edward Hospital.

He said Addington and local hospitals would not treat infections.

He said King Edward, which served the more than six million people living in the greater Durban area, had also limited the number of HIV patients because of budgetary constraints.

“I was informed that people who go to private hospitals such as McCords get really good treatment until their money runs out. Some people have gone home from McCords to die because they don’t have any money for expesive treatments,” Achmat claimed.

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