Most of the healthcare services provided to children at Netcare Alberlito Hospital will continue uninterrupted, regional hospital management has clarified in response to alarmist and misleading reports on social media.
“More than eighty percent of the care provided to paediatric patients at Netcare Alberlito Hospital will be unaffected by the changes planned to commence in May next year,” says Sara Nayager, regional manager of Netcare’s KZN hospital division.
The hospital’s emergency department will continue to welcome children and families and care for their urgent medical needs, and paediatric day procedures will remain in place. The emergency department at the hospital is well positioned to handle emergencies across the board and is, as always, supported by Netcare 911’s road ambulance service based at the hospital as well as its aero-medical services.
However, the resource-intensive overnight paediatric and neonatal intensive care unit, as well as obstetric facilities at this particular hospital have seen dwindling demand over the past 10 years and will be closed or in the case of the paediatric overnight ward, a much smaller unit will be created. Therefore, Netcare Alberlito Hospital will still have limited paediatric overnight beds, and in the unusual event that more children require overnight hospital care than we can accommodate at once, there is provision for transfer to the closest facility most appropriate for their specific needs.
“The lower paediatric admissions in our facilities reflect global trends towards treating children on an outpatient basis wherever possible and speaks to ethical paediatric practice as opposed to over servicing. Netcare has therefore been subsidising these unsustainable units for years to keep the hospital afloat and to continue providing healthcare at this facility. It is interesting to note that between 2008 and 2018, even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of hospitals in the United States that offered paediatric services reduced by 20%,” Nayager says.
“After many attempts to make these units more sustainable over the years, including discussions with doctors and other stakeholders, we were forced to consider the impact this scenario is having on the overall sustainability of the hospital, which has been running at a loss over many years due, in part, to these under-performing and resource intensive units. The jobs of our 342 Netcare and support staff members are therefore being placed in jeopardy because these services are not sustainable.
"The affected specialists have either been offered practising privileges at other Netcare facilities, where we are seeing a demand for these services, or alternative options have been discussed. We will also do our utmost to ensure alternative consulting rooms for those specialists affected in office spaces close to the hospital.”
It is also important to note that patients can access these specialised services at other healthcare facilities, including a private hospital 14km away, and Netcare uMhlanga Hospital, which is 30km from the hospital.
It is Netcare’s intention to create an 80-bed mental health service for adolescents and adults in the space that the current maternity, neonatal and paediatric units occupy, as this service is in short supply in the country and indeed in KwaZulu-Natal as is evident, as the National Department of Health (NDoH) has noted.
The NDoH stated in June this year that more than 6.5 million people in South Africa are in need of professional mental health intervention, of which almost 1.3 million require care for severe psychiatric conditions.
“Replacing the maternity, neonatal and overnight paediatric services, for which there is such low demand, with mental healthcare services will provide a solution for the hospital’s overall sustainability, making it possible for the hospital to continue offering a host of other specialised medical and surgical services, and protect the jobs of our staff members,” Nayager says.
What is changing from May 2023
- With the KZN Department of Health’s approval the maternity, neonatal and paediatric units on the second floor of Netcare Alberlito Hospital will be replaced with mental health services for adolescents and adults.
- Mothers delivering in the emergency department and their babies will be transferred to another suitable hospital once they are stable.
- Of the child patients cared for at Netcare Alberlito Hospital, less than 20% require overnight admission.
- More than eighty percent of paediatric healthcare services will remain available from healthcare professionals at the hospital and a limited number of beds will be available to accommodate paediatric patients overnight. If the need to transfer patients arises, they will be transported to the closest most appropriate facility by Netcare’s 911 road ambulance service, which is based at the hospital and on standby 24/7 365 days a year and is also supported by its aero-medical services.
What is NOT changing
- The hospital will remain fully resourced for all paediatric and maternity emergencies.
- Same day admissions for children will also continue uninterrupted and child patients will be accommodated in a dedicated paediatric day ward. However, the hospital will only accommodate limited overnight services for paediatric patients when the need arises.
- There will be no job losses for Netcare Alberlito Hospital employees, in fact it is expected that jobs will be created, either at this hospital or other Netcare facilities.
- The healthcare disciplines currently offered by specialist physicians at Netcare Alberlito Hospital include, among others, general surgery, urology, gynaecology, orthopaedics, ear nose and throat, plastic and reconstructive surgery, ophthalmology, pulmonology, endocrinology, and cardiology. All these services will continue to be offered at the high levels of service that the Ballito community has become accustomed to.
- Netcare Alberlito Hospital will continue to provide comprehensive emergency medical services to the community. On average the emergency department sees more than 800 patients per month, with as many as 100 of these patients suffering from serious conditions that require immediate lifesaving intervention.
“Netcare Alberlito Hospital’s shift in focus from May 2023 reflects the responsibility to optimise healthcare skills and resources where they are most needed,” Nayager concludes.
Looking for a medical appointment? Netcare appointmed™ will make appointments for YOU with specialists practising at Netcare hospitals, GPs, and dentists at Medicross medical and dental centres, and specialists at Akeso mental health facilities. Simply request an appointment online at www.netcare.co.za/Request-a-medical-appointment or phone Netcare appointmed™ on 0860 555 565, Mondays to Fridays between 08:00 and 17:00.
To find out more about the services offered through Netcare hospitals and other of the Group’s facilities, please visit www.netcare.co.za or contact the Netcare customer service centre either by email at [email protected] or phone 0860 NETCARE (0860 638 2273). Note that the centre operates Mondays to Fridays from 08:00 to 16:00.
For media enquiries, contact MNA at the contact details listed below.
Issued by: MNA on behalf of Netcare Alberlito Hospital
For media enquiries contact: Martina Nicholson, Meggan Saville, Estene Lotriet-Vorster or Clementine Forsthofer
Telephone: (011) 469 3016
Email: [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected] or [email protected]