Security Situation at New Somerset Hospital to be Reviewed | Western Cape Government


Security Situation at New Somerset Hospital to be Reviewed

27 August 2012

Last week, 23 August 2012, copper piping was stolen from the water reservoir above the seventh floor of New Somerset Hospital in Green Point, which resulted in flooding of the hospital's four main lifts and basement.

In addition, a large pipe leading from the water reservoir above was cut, leading to massive water flooding in the hospital, with obvious potential risk of blowing the hospital's electrical supply. The lifts were switched off and the City of Cape Town's fire brigade was on site to pump out as much water as they could from the lifts and basement to protect electrics. Water was also pumped out of the lift shafts, but the four main lifts accessing the west block of the hospital are out of use. Water is still pumped out but the table is lower and the electrical supply has been safeguarded.

The South African Police Service is investigating the case. The case number is 550/8/2012.

Impact on Patients, Staff and Visitors
The hospital has an action plan to manage the daily patient load. The hospital is running as usual, except that all elective surgery has been suspended.

The top floor west block patients are gradually being relocated to the old wards in the north block. Lifts cannot be used and visitors, staff and walking patients need to use the stairs.

Security Situation at Somerset Hospital
The security situation at the hospital will be discussed at a strategic planning session.

Western Cape Minister of Health, Theuns Botha, said: "Security at healthcare facilities is not an easy task due to the number of persons entering and leaving the premises each day. Consider the following - the department has almost 30 000 employees, almost all of which work in healthcare facilities. The total annual headcount at primary healthcare facilities exceeds 16 million. The annual total of persons visiting casualty units exceeds 624 560."

"Western Cape Government Health spends over R90 million per year on procuring the services of security services and equipment. This is R90 million that could otherwise have been spent on healthcare delivery. The department thus considers the specific risks at a facility and typically applies appropriate security measures that may include:

  • Access control of vehicles and persons onto the grounds.
  • Safes for firearms and other weapons.
  • Metal detectors at the entrances to the building.
  • Personnel and facilities for the searching of persons entering the building.
  • Surveillance cameras at critical locations on the grounds and in the buildings.
  • General access control by lock and key, biometric readers and access cards.
  • Specific access control to areas such as the pharmacy, maternity wards and paediatric wards."

"The future plan is to investigate the option that all security will be sourced and provided by the Department of Community Safety to the individual departments. By doing this, the standard, control and evaluation could be standardised. The departments will then become the clients to Community Safety much similar to the relationship with Public Works."

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Hélène Roussouw
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