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Responses to questions asked about Cathcart Hospital

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Media Release by Mr. Siyanda Manana, Eastern Cape Department of Health

Question 1:

Why is the hospital being decommissioned and changed into a public healthcare facility?



Cathcart Hospital is a public healthcare facility in its current status. Hospitals are currently categorized in terms of their drainage areasinto District, Regional, and Tertiary hospitals. From the above, it will be noticed that districts are provided for through district hospitals, regions are covered through regional hospitals, while the whole province is covered through provincial or tertiary hospitals. Local communities or sub-districts, on the other hand, do not have dedicated local authority or community hospitals.

The ECDOH has taken a firm decision to provide hospital services for these local communities or sub-districts with small hospitals with less than 50 in-patient beds and reclassified these into community hospitals or health centres. Cathcart Hospital will never be closed down but will be equipped to provide out-patient, in-patient, X-Ray, minor theatre and other support services. All surrounding clinics within Amahlathi Sub-District will refer patients to Cathcart Community Hospital / Health Centre.  Cathcart Community Hospital / Health Centre will refer those patients that require district hospital care to Stutterheim District Hospital. Stutterheim District Hospital, on the other hand, will refer complicated cases to Cecilia Makiwane Regional Hospital. Cecilia Makiwane Hospital refers its complicated patients to Frere Tertiary Hospital.

In order to improve services at Cathcart Community Hospital / Health Centre, the ECDOH has recently procured a new X-Ray machine which is currently being commissioned. The ECDOH is in the process of procuring additional equipment that the hospital needs.

As part of improving efficiencies in the staffing of health facilities in the province, the ECDOH is in the process of reviewing its staff structure in such a way that all frontline facilities such as hospitals and clinics are strengthened to improve service delivery.

Question 2:

Which public participation processes were followed leading up to this decision?


The Eastern Cape province has an abnormally high number of health facilities across all categories. This is as a result of facilities that were inherited from the missionaries, the apartheid system, local municipalities, as well as SANTA. Consultation regarding the rationalization and categorization of these facilities so as to improve efficiencies and the referral system, started about five years ago resulting in the Service Delivery Plan (SDP) that was considered by the province. The renaming of Cathcart Hospital is part of the implementation of the SDP.

Question 3:

When is the healthcare facility expected to be operational?


Cathcart Community Hospital has been functional all along, and continues to be functional. There is no intention of the department to close the facility.

Question 4:

What will the change mean for the residents of Cathcart?


Cathcart Hospital has been serving the whole Amathole District as a small district hospital. This was overstretching its drainage over a large area. By restricting the drainage area of the hospital to the Amahlathi Sub-district, the local community will have a hospital dedicated to it. The new XRay that has been procured for the hospital will make this important service available to the people of Cathcart in particular, and the rest of Amahlathi Sub-District in general.

Question 5:

Where will they access healthcare in the process of decommission (if it means temporary closure)?


Except for restricting the drainage area for Cath Cart Hospital to Amahlathi Sub-District and renaming it Cathcart Community Hospital / Health Centre, there is no interruption of health service delivery either temporarily or permanently.

© 2020 Eastern Cape Department of Health