Patients accuse hospital of negligence

Written by Sandile Mbili

Northdale Hospital in Pietermaritzburg is under scrutiny following cases of alleged staff negligence reported to the KwaZulu-Natal department of health.

Recent complaints from the community have thrust the public hospital into the spotlight with patients reporting experiences of bad treatment and poor services.

The family of 76-year-old John Sivalingum said he was left on a wheelchair battling to breathe in casualty for almost 11 hours without a portable oxygen tank. This is despite a doctor suggesting the pensioner be given a breathing aid before seeing him at the X-ray department last week. 

Sivalingum, from Newholmes in Pietermaritzburg, was rushed to hospital but, according to his son Bradley, it took about 11 hours to locate a portable oxygen tank to help him breathe.

“It was very sad to see my father in that situation, fighting for his life from 8am to 6.30pm. He was on a wheelchair because there were not enough beds. Later in the evening, he was taken to the X-ray department and then admitted for fluid build-up in his chest,” said Bradley.


The Sivalingum family said they “don’t wish anyone” the experience their father received at Northdale Hospital.

“How come such a huge and well-known government hospital has only one portable tank?” asked Bradley.

A wheelchair-bound Sharm Naidoo told Health-e News that she had a high fever and went to the hospital for a check-up but was told, much to her surprise, that she has arthritis – by a doctor who did not even examine her.

“I was very shocked and angry. I know my body and when this happens to me, I usually get put on a drip and given antibiotics but this doctor refused to listen. How can the doctor diagnose me with arthritis without even examining me?” asked Naidoo.

She said the incident made her wonder how many patients were misdiagnosed.

Another concerned patient Cynthia Ball complained that the eye clinic was not supplying glasses.

KwaZulu-Natal’s health spokesperson Noluthando Khumalo said the department was aware of the complaints. 

“On Sivalingum’s case the department is still waiting for a full report from the hospital and I would advise the family to lodge a formal complaint with the public relations officer for further investigation,” she said.

Khumalo added that she found Naidoo’s complaint “disturbing” and said the department would follow up to get clarity. 

“The eyeglass matter is an issue which the department of health is still resolving since the eye clinic only opens Mondays, Tuesdays by appointments,” she said. – Health-e News 

An edited version of this story was published by Health24.

About the author

Sandile Mbili

Sandile Mbili is an award-winning CJ based in KwaZulu Natal and has been freelancing since 2010. As a creative writer has contributed to Radio Khwezi drama department for 6 years and also wrote articles for Inkazimulo Newspaper and Daily Sun. Sandile has a Diploma in Comprehensive Writing from College SA and has completed an online course with Frety Media for Press Code. To date, he has produced 10 radio dramas and won two awards for Best Radio Drama on MTN Radio Awards 2015 and Best Educational Magazine Show at MDDA-Sanlam Media Awards 2015.