South Africa's oldest hospital to receive new APU, upgraded theatres and more | Western Cape Government


South Africa's oldest hospital to receive new APU, upgraded theatres and more

26 April 2023

With almost R150 million of infrastructure projects currently in progress, Minister Nomafrench Mbombo had an opportunity to inspect the construction of the new Acute Psychiatric Unit (APU) at the New Somerset Hospital, as well as the upgrades being made to their theatres and ventilation systems.

The combined total for the project allocations is R147.992 million, of which the construction of the APU and upgrades will cost R62.779 million and R34.608 million, respectively.

For more than 150 years, New Somerset Hospital has been providing healthcare services to Cape Town residents and has undergone much change to keep up with the demands of the community.

However, today’s oversight visit proved that this process of change is only intensifying and once again meeting the news of Cape Town residents. 


Following the first national Mental Health Conference which took place on 24 and 25 April, the need for greater focus on the wellbeing of residents was stressed by all stakeholders. By constructing this unit, New Somerset Hospital will have greater capacity to deal with the mental health burden. This is crucial considering that the hospital’s feeder area has recently been extended to service the Atlantis community as well.

Similar to what was witnessed at Eerste River Hospital, the APU located at New Somerset is designed based on the experiences at Mitchell’s Plain Hospital to prevent patients from feeling any sense of imprisonment.

The 30-bed unit will be equipped with secure and open spaces, therapeutic areas, and isolation units in order to cater to the needs of all residents who require its services. Excitingly sustainable materials that are environmentally friendly are bringing used in its construction. Beginning in January this year, the completion of the APU is expected in February 2025. 

Theatre & ventilation upgrades

Due to the hospital’s age, it is important that its facilities are modernised and kept up to date with the most recent developments in the medical field. The Minister welcomed the progress being made in the rehabilitation of the hospital’s four existing theatres, with two being renovated at a time so as to not disrupt the hospital’s services.

Once complete in May next year, New Somerset’s theatres will have upgraded medical imaging facilities, new cold rooms and theatres, as well as UPS installations in the event of blackouts. This means that the theatres will remain productive regardless of loadshedding and ready to perform surgeries and address the current backlog that was worsened by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Minister Mbombo says: “I am excited about the developments that are taking place at New Somerset Hospital. The construction of the hospital’s new APU will help capacitate the acute mental health services in the Western Cape, of which more than R260 million of APU construction is already taking place in the metro.

Despite the excellent work being done by New Somerset, the 40-bed unit being used does not have the facilities needed to provide holistic therapeutic care for mental health patients, making this project even more important. Those in need of mental health care need not only the support of the government but also all of society.

We look forward to the immense work that will commence in due course, such as the fire proofing of the hospital due to the old material which were used in its initial construction. I commend the dedicated team of professionals working at New Somerset Hospital who will see through these important interventions.”