daThe Citizen reports that according to the Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng, last week’s fire at Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital was the fourth such fire in the province in the past six years.

The hospital was closed for seven days after fire ripped through parts of the facility last Friday. Hundreds of patients had to be moved to other hospitals as a safety precaution due to concerns about smoke inhalation. On Monday, the DA’s health spokesperson, Jack Bloom, claimed widespread safety non-compliance at Gauteng hospitals, saying past inspections of public hospitals had revealed widespread lack of compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA). He cited previous fires at Carletonville Hospital in February this year, Bheki Mlangeni Hospital in May 2019 and Tambo Memorial Hospital in May 2015, as well as the fire at the head office of the Gauteng health department in the Bank of Lisbon building in September 2018. “Former Gauteng health MEC Bandile Masuku indicated in 2019 that no state health facility in Gauteng had been assessed as complying with the OHSA,” Bloom recalled. He reported that according to the provincial health department’s estimate, it would cost about R6 billion to ensure fire and safety compliance at all 32 public hospitals in Gauteng. In Bloom’s view, the cost to fix Charlotte Maxeke after the fire might well be close to R1 billion. Meantime, the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) has called for an investigation into safety measures at the hospital.

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