Review: My Grooteschuur unHospitable Experience

When our newest roommate was wheeled in, myself and the other post-op women in my hospital ward were ready to shower her with support, as we had done for each other when we were wheeled in from our respective C-sections.

“How are you feeling?” was the number one question we would throw at all the new arrivals, as a ‘welcome to the club, we feel your pain’ assurance.

We added things like, ‘the pain will go away soon…’ and ‘… the morphine works wonders’

Usually, the support is met with forced smiles and laughter, as comradery filled the clinical atmosphere -but this time, the woman being wheeled in was noticeably unresponsive.

After a few seconds, our latest addition sighed, and grunted a shaky, “no. I am not okay…” which escalated to a painful whale, “my baby died”.

We tried not to allow the awkward silence to govern the room.

“I am so sorry”, we all said, not in unison, but in a wave of lowered voices.

I asked her if there was anyone I could call for her.

“No. No one will come”.

Ten minutes passed and the woman’s small whales of pain became a lingering cry.

“Suster, ek het noggie my painkillers gekry nie”.

The nurse hovered by her patient folder, ignoring the woman who had just spent hours in labour, giving birth to a dead baby.

She would later reveal to the group that she had gone into labour at 32 weeks gestation. While giving birth, her baby had failure to thrive, and died.

During this ordeal, she was unable to pass the placenta naturally, and the doctors opted to perform a C-section to remove it.

She was sent back to our ward; a room filled with moms and crying newborns, to recover.

The nurse looked up from the folder after several more agonizing minutes had ticked by.

“Ja ek se mos doctor gan nou kom”.

Time passed.

“Op hou skree. Doctor must still prescribe something”.

At the 45 minute mark, the woman stood up, dragged her drip from its holster and scraped her freshly cut body along the bed.

I remember her blank face as she looked behind her, then forward and said, “Haai. Kyk al die bloed”.

She waddled out of the room.

When she returned, she was given her first shot of morphine, an hour after the feeling in her body had come back in full force, and put her in what can only be described as post-operative hell.

I sat and watched the entire thing, hugging my baby… completely unaware of the events that would follow.


To be clear, my experience at Grooteschuur hospital was both satisfactory, and terrifying.

Seeing the way the lower classes are treated, by people who have taken an oath to ‘do no harm ’is eye-opening, but my opinion is irrelevant, and will most likely get lost in a sea of ‘public hospital horror story’ experiences that will never go viral.

Still, I will tell my story, as I have become known to do, and leave it up to the reader to evaluate how, what was supposed to be a beautiful memory of the birth of my daughter, would turn into a traumatic experience that would have me running from a completely different government facility only three days later.

First, for context, let me tell you what it feels like to undergo a C-section.

Csection, or cesarean section, is the delivery of a baby through a surgical incision in the mother’s abdomen and uterus.

Seen as ‘the easy way out’ by many natural birth veterans, a C-section is when you don’t physically participate in the labour/delivery of your child. This is usually confused with being an effortless birth.

A group of doctors meet you in the surgical ward. You are naked, and sitting upright on a table, while an anesthetist asks you a series of questions, in order to estimate the proper dosage that will be injected into your spinal column, while you are wide awake.

I repeat. This entire procedure happens while you are completely conscious, unless there is a medical reason to do it otherwise.

The injection will temporarily block your pain receptors, resulting in temporary paralysis of your lower extremities.

You now cannot feel or move anything from your waist to your toes. Already, this is the making of a slasher movie. Your heart will race when you realise that this paralysis is a reality for some women, who never regain the feeling in their legs.

Yes, this is an actual risk.

Once numb, the surgical team allow your birthing partner into the room. Your lower half is shielded by curtaining, and they immediately start cutting through your layers of skin and abdomen, while they discuss the soccer, or rugby, or anything unrelated to medicine.

Even though you don’t feel any pain, you do feel them working on your insides. At the ten minute mark, things get wild.

The team, now solely focused on dislodging a very reluctant baby tears at you, and shakes you from side to side, while an intern presses down just below your chest. For a minute, you can’t breathe.

And just when you think you’re about to die, you hear your baby scream.

And it’s all worth it … Until the anesthetic pulls out.


So, as this was my third c-section, I opted for a tubal ligation to be done at the end of my surgery.

Tubal ligation or tubectomy is a surgical procedure for sterilization in which a woman’s fallopian tubes are clamped and blocked and sealed, either of which prevents eggs from reaching the uterus for implantation.

Clamped and blocked and sealed.

They snipped my eiers.

After my operation, my husband and I were sent to the recovery area, which is essentially a foyer, in which you lay tits out, while a stranger squeezes your nipples and shoves it into your baby’s mouth.

As I hadn’t gotten my land legs back yet, I was giddy from the drugs, and happy that I wasn’t in any pain.

Also, I was no longer pregnant, and that elation had me safely in a bubble.

Then, the glass started to shatter.

A half an hour after my surgery, a porter came to find me, and take me to the ward,

However, when I arrived at J ward, the nurse shouted at the porter “No no, who said you must bring her here? There is no space for her”.


My C-section was scheduled for Monday 7 May. Protocol states that patients are to be booked in the day before, and I was instructed to be at the hospital on Sunday morning at 8am.

I arrived on time, and was told by the reception to go to F Floor, to be booked in,

When I arrived at F floor, no one was expecting me.

My 9month pregnant body was then ordered to go to the other maternity ward, where they too had no idea that I was to be booked in.

I was however told to sit down.

At 11.30, after several phone calls and a slight interrogation, I was told that they had a bed for me after all.



The porter tried to explain that the nurses on J floor had told him to move me to the new ward, but alas, the sister felt the need to say in my presence that I was not wanted. Forlorn, said porter returned me to my initial post, to the dismay of the J floor staff.

I laid there, with my husband and baby at my side, still elated, still in a daze.

Soon, my legs slowly regained feeling… and the wound in my abdomen tingled.

The tingle escalated quickly to a dull ache… to a constant, sharp ache… to excruciating pain.

“Sister, I need a painkiller please”.

“Yes just wait. We gonna give you morphine then you gonna sleep”.

“If I sleep does the baby go to the nursery?”, I naively enquired.

“Nee mammie, dis jou kind die”.

The logic that drugging me into a stupor, then leaving me to care for an infant might not be ideal glided right over her head.

“Can my husband stay and watch her then?”…

She laughed at me.

I was apparently unaware of how ridiculous I sounded.

Without warning, she injected my arm with morphine.

“Daddy, it’s time to leave now. Come back visiting hours”.

As the afternoon progressed, so did my pain. I laid there for two hours before a porter came and whisked me away to H ward, to lay with other post op mommies.

I fought the sleep, trying to stay awake for my baby.

Six hours passed before I received my next dose of pain killers. I laid in agony, in tears, while nurses repeated that my medicine was ‘on its way’.

Still, this wasn’t the traumatic part of my ordeal.

Tuesday morning, the professor walked into the room. He didn’t greet any of the women, and merely said to his colleague; “These three need to be transferred. We need the beds”. He asked where we all lived, suggested we be taken to our respective local government facilities, and he left… never to be seen again.

Tuesday however came and went, and the transfer vehicles never arrived, so we stayed in our beds.

Then, Wednesday morning, we were told the same thing.

“Ladies”, the head nurse called. “You will all be transferred today. We need the beds for other patients”.

We all packed our bags, and awaited the ambulance van’s imminent arrival.

At this point, I had had no visitors, as my family were waiting for me to be transferred.

At 2.45pm we were asked to leave our beds, and take our newborns to the waiting room. Our beds were given to new patients, while we sat in dining room chairs as the cold crept in through the facilities broken windows, two days post op.

We were given no medication. We were given no medical attention.

We were however told that the ambulance was on its way.

The hours chimed by.






I removed my gown, and covered my newborn daughter.

The cold tugged at my incision.

At 8pm there was no sign of an ambulance. Post C-section, I had now been sitting up-straight in the cold for five hours.

At 8:45pm I went to the nurses’ station.

“The ambulance is tending to emergencies first. Please be patient”.

At 9.45pm, the other woman was transported to Somerset Hospital. My daughter and I remained in the waiting room. She woke up to nurse, and I opened my breast to feed her, with tears in my eyes. The pain had progressed to the point where I could no longer stand or sit upright.

And of course, as she suckled, my womb contracted.

I was sincerely convinced that I was going to die.

Now, at this point I find it necessary to say that as a psych patient, I had started to lose my grip on the reality of the situation. I sat mostly in silence, obsessively counting the minutes, while picturing the several outcomes of the situation.

I pictured my daughter dying from the cold. I pictured myself losing it because of the hours of torture I had to endure, and somehow taking my frustration out on her, and I feared for myself and for her at the many ways this was affecting my mental health.

I was already a high risk case.

And not once did anyone come and check if I was okay.

I felt myself start to let go.

By 11pm I asked to be discharged.

I was told by nurses and one of the intern doctors (the only doctor that had responded to my request to see a physician) that if I left the hospital, they would not be liable if anything happened to me or my baby.

So I sat there, and waited.

But by 12 I was in tatters.

At this point my family mobilized.

Several phone calls later, the hospital manager appeared and apologized to me. I heard him address the staff.

“Guys, this is not on. We are going to have the department of health on our case if this gets out”.

He then came to me, I was now sitting in the passage. I couldn’t go anywhere without my daughter, so she was right there with me. At this point I hadn’t even been to pee. The pressure built up in my bladder, also putting stress on my freshly cut womb.

“You were never supposed to be removed from your bed. Please allow us to apologise. I called the ambulance and told them that you are priority number 1”.

By 2am I was still there.

No ambulance.

No medication.

No food.

My cousin came to the hospital to wait with me, but when she saw me, she asked that a doctor evaluate me and discharge me immediately.

It must have been the look in my eyes.

A doctor arrived at 2.30am.

He took my pulse and said you’re fine, you can go home.

At 3.30am on Thursday morning I walked into my house. I fell asleep without washing the day off from my skin.

I dreamt of sitting in the passage and waiting.

When I went to my check up at Mitchell’s Plain MOU on Friday, I had an anxiety attack and walked right back out.

I am terrified to go back to a government facility.

You see, I know this doesn’t seem like a scary ordeal. Most horror stories contain abuse, and death. But the way I was dehumanized, and ripped of my basic human rights has dented my soul.

I feel as though a very important time in my life was taken from me, and instead of a beautiful memory of the birth of my child, I now have the trauma of having to protect my daughter from the cold, while we were neglected, without medical care after serious abdominal surgery.

The surgical team that assisted me was great, but for some reason the care staff at government hospitals do not place the treatment of people in a high regard.

People who seek medical assistance at government hospitals are sick, and often do not have the money for private care. This in itself makes them vulnerable and we all know that in the world we live in, we value ourselves on what we can and cannot afford.

Why take the oath to heal, if you only intend on being a healer to people who aren’t poor, or downtrodden?

Why be a nurse if you do not want to treat people with respect? Nursing is a profession based on servitude and care.

Besides the events mentioned, in my time as an outpatient at GSH leading up to my admission, I noticed how certain patients who seemed poorer than others were treated as if they were a bother.

The women in the antenatal clinic were even scared to ask the nurses questions, in fear of being shouted at or ridiculed.

Many times, nurses would ignore you, and even doctors would walk pass you without even saying “Good morning”.

Are these the hospitals the government hoped to give us?

How do we fix this?

Is there anyone we can call?

I bet no one will come.






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41 thoughts on “Review: My Grooteschuur unHospitable Experience

  1. Natasha Naidoo says:

    Thank you for this post. I am a hospital employee as an occupational therapist. As I have told my patients many times (and get very shocked faces) please do complian. Send a letter (or even this blog) to our quality assurance department. Patients will ask me why I say this if I work for the hospital, this is my reply ” I can complain that we are understaffed, we need more hands but unless management sees that by us being understaffed and told to do more with less, my patients suffer.” So please write that letter of complaint. It sounds like a backward system but the the more squeaky wheels the better.

    And we are grossly understaffed everywhere and we want to give the best service we can to our patients but there are moments when you are so moeg that yes you forget your manners and don’t greet because in your head you ticking off the TO-DO list of patients seen and still to be seen, Of patients you wished you could console but time doe not allow. To spend time doing therapy but time and man power does not allow. Bed pressure is real too many patients, too little beds. You go home and think I did not go and study so that I can just be a machine operator on the patient conveyor belt. I studied to make and impact in my patients life but the systemamputates your arms and legs and expects you know to be effective. Sorry I sound like I’m venting. This is by no means an excuse bit just small inside look.

    But please complain. Print and send yoir blog post as is to the QA department. As healthcare professionals we want to offer quality care, we fight,lament, swear in our heads at the powers that be…


    • sharon Wyngaard says:

      I am so saddened with what I am reading a mother of two I had both natural births and was also at government hospitals with both my boys, I cant say anything bad I had the best care from Somerset and Hanover Park MOU,my heart goes out to you can only imagine the pain,trauma that you went through Shana.After giving birth I went on medical Aid and have been for the last 15 years, I dont have sick children (thank God for that) but its a blessing to take them to a private doctor even if they have the littlest cough, I will keep you in my prayers and baby as well, thank you for sharing your story ❤


      • mARY says:

        Delia Schuster As an anaesthetic registrar working at Groot Schuur, I can attest to the fact that – although we are faced with great challenges in terms of sheer numbers/work load – patients receive care that is at least on par with that of the private sector (where I have also worked).
        I suspect that this lady’s “ordeal” was very much informed by her personal back ground and – perhaps unrealistic – expectations.
        This is by no means a true representation of the state sector in the Western Cape: for one thing, the accompanying picture most decidedly was not taken at Groote Schuur (check out the architecture!); for another (I’m sorry to burst any bubbles here), people have pain, have seizure and -yes – even die in private hospitals as well.
        Moreover, in a tertiary training hospital such as Groote Schuur, we are constantly under supervision; and under scrutiny by our seniors – which makes for a culture of accountability that is wholly absent in the private sector.
        I would caution people against jumping on the fear mongering, judgemental band wagon without considering that there is usually (at least) two sides to every story.
        A small part of my side is that I work 12 day long weeks, up to 14 hours a day, to provide free medical care for those who cannot afford aide.
        Consider then how demoralised this kind of poorly informed slander (yes, that’s what it is) makes me feel.


    • Stacey says:

      Too many excuses for the poor treatment and utter disrespect of the groove schuur staff. And many other government hospitals and institutions.

      If it’s not in you to be kind respectful to ALL regardless of how tired or overworked you are, then the job is clearly not for you. Everyone who studied medicine along with many many other careers, knows of the long hours and pressures they were about to embark on. There are true doctors and nurses out there (even in the government sectors) who show great compassion for their patients and much respect for everyone around them because it’s who they are. Most of the government staff think patients need to just be “greatful” because they aren’t paying for anything! Most government workers do their work for the paycheck at the end of the month and not because they have a passion to help people or not because they want to make a difference! I’ve seen it too often to think differently. Don’t get me wrong, this type of attitude towards patients is also seen in private institutions (very rarely but it’s there). However due to their strict hospital codes of conduct, of which the hospital leadership has to enforce, these monster staff members tend to pretend as if they do in fact care due to the fear of losing their jobs. This country is sickening and priorities are completely skewed! Peoples lives don’t matter, even when this was the oath they swore for.


  2. Ronell Abrahams says:

    Oh no Shana! I’m sorry to hear about your ordeal, I too gave birth at GSH 7 years ago. I attended the fertilty clinic at GSH and I can tell you the service I received was nothing close to what you have experienced. Being a Mother to the 1st child born alive and this my 3rd pregnancy, I received good service and both doctor’s and nurses were caring. I was discharged after 3 days due to Gestational Diabetes I developed. I had to do a follow up at the MOU in Mitchell’s Plain. My baby’s birth weight was 2.2kg we were both okay to be discharged. When I got to the MOU the nurse yelling at me when she saw by baby wrapped in a blanket and said ” Dis hoekom julle kinnes blou trek en dood gaan” I had no idea what she was talking about. Apparently if a child weighs less than 2.5kg the Mother has to kangaroo the baby… And that is what she simply wanted to tell me. As a new mother I burst in tears and another nurse came to my rescue and ask what is wrong? I explained this is the 1st child born alive and repeated what the nurse said to me… After hearing my “story” everyone all of a sudden treated me with extra “care”

    The government hospitals have good caring nursing staff and some just pathetic!

    Hope you make a speedy recovery xxx Love every blog of yours. Oh and it feels awsome to receive the notifications as if I am important hehehe


  3. Lee-Ann says:

    Wow Shana I Pray that you get through this Fear. Reading your post makes my blood boil… where is the humanity? These government workers don’t realise that they there to serve. I cannot even imagine how traumatising that must have been. I thank God that you and Baby are safe and out of Harms way. Do not leave it like that, I know that there are so many other cases, but we need to raise these issues, raise our voices because the next mother and baby could die… makes me wonder if those nurses are mothers themselves. They are cruel! F…. I can’t deal. Hugs to you and baby.


  4. Masroefa says:

    This is terrifying! I cannot imagine going through what you have been through. I am not a psych patient but I think I would’ve lost my mind way sooner than you started losing grip. A government hospital will never see me again for as long as I live, no matter how expensive my medical aid becomes. No matter how much it cripples me to pay it. I WILL PAY!

    Some years back my Mother had a heart attack. I sat with her at the Mitchells Plain Day Hospital from 20:00 the night until 08:00 in the morning without a painkiller, a Dr observation, a shred of food. She was wetting herself because she was unable to walk even with my help as far as the toilet. There were no wheelchairs or facilities to clean her myself even. After that day I vowed that I will never put her through that again. It was the best decision I ever made. And up until the day she died, she had the best care, her own room, a nurse tending to her every need and we even got an extra bed so me or one of my siblings could sleep over for the duration of her stay. Which in total was 10 days before she passed on.

    My son is not a child who gets sick alot (Thank God) but I will not risk having to sit in a facility for 24 hours before getting help for him. No way. As much as it cripples me, that medical aid I will pay!

    I’m sorry u had to go through this.


  5. Cothar says:

    I agree with the poor service of staff. I had a similar experience.

    Went into Somerset hospital for elective c section. Was 1pm the Monday. At 7pm my water broke…I went into labour at around midnight. I was standing when my water broke and no one would help too clean me or the floor. I was standing on my fluid with a drop in my arm. Nurses refused to help and there was no tissue paper even for me to do it…I tried to sleep that night but to no avail. I was all alone, young, first time mommy. I was scared s $$_÷£ESS. No one could come visit, my husband could only come to me when I was prepped n theatre. The nursea treat us as if we’re animals…they chose to do what they do…yet we must accept their terrible attitudes. After surgery, I again struggled alone with my baby…but other mommies in the ward helped alot. The worse part is…we sit in the ward. .topless…feeling emotional like cows and it’s cold as the windows are kept open..they can close…but they’re kept open…we have newborns. .but they couldn’t care less.

    Then comes breakfast time. ..and you are instructed to leave ur baby alone in the room…noone to watch overy ur baby and there’s people in and our

    Can’t go to toilet as there’s no one u can truly trust to watch ur baby. Yet bowel movements are so crucial.

    Not to drag the story. .I competely agree with ir experience at a government hospital. The nursing staff are putrid. I have never felt so dehumanised iny life. The longer I stayed, the more my health deteriorated. ..I wouldn’t not wish this experience upon anyone.

    I wish this could change. ..this is not right!!!!


  6. Candice Pastor says:

    I had a C- Section at Mowbray Maternity 2 years ago. I was initially booked to give birth at Mitchell’s Plain District but due to high BP I was transported to Mowbray maternity by ambulance on a Friday night. My husband did not go with me in the ambulance as he was busy sorting out our eldest. I got to Mowbray the paramedics pushed me in a wheelchair to the admission ward, they then told me to get up and sit on a very hard plastic chair (panty less) to wait till they call my name. They eventually called my name, I was then told that I was going to be induced because of the high BP. They started the first round of induction at 11 that night, anyway to make a long story short. After 6 failed inductions that lasted all through Saturday and my daughters heart rate increasing they finally decided to do a C-section which led to complications that could have killed me, because of the inductions and being in the first stages of labour since the Friday night. My uterus would not contract so it had to be stitched and because my baby was 4kg at birth I somehow tore inside which also led to more stitches. After my C-section my husband was told to leave the theater while they work on me, he sat outside in the waiting room with our newborn daughter for half an hour with no updates on what was happening to me (He was freaked out of his mind) My stay after that was okayish I had to be in ICU for 2 days because of complications and BP problems. All Dr’s I spoke to after my experience says that they waited to long to do the C-section hence the complications. I watched the nurses at night and saw how most of the slept when they were supposed to be attending to patients. Our Government hospitals are pathetic! Nurses and Dr’s make you feel like they are doing you a favor by assisting you!


  7. Maura De Lilly says:

    Your story is heart wrenching but reminds me so much of my mother. She passed away March 2016, she was treated at GSH for hep C which she contracted through a blood transfusion. Your story tugged at my heart strings because she had received similar treatment and we actually did report it to the QA department but All we received was nice words but no action. The nurses were disgusting and yes I say disgusting. She was 67 at the time and though she was confused and in pain as they removed a sample of her breast to send away they did it out in the open and without anaesthesia she chose to help a lady next to her who was just being ignored and told to keep quiet. No reporting or revenge can bring her back now so thank you for speaking out .


  8. Nabeelah says:

    I’m currently 19 gave birth at 18 at GSH and I can relate on everything you say, everytime I think about giving birth again I get mini anxiety attacks, I feel like crying just by typing this, I was two weeks in hospital but I won’t lie it felt like two years, I cried everyday and because I was so young they treated me like dirt, i had a liver problem during my pregnancy and even though I had natural birth they still treated me badly, I can’t wven imagine how they treated you, I remember after I gave birth I asked the nurse if she could pull up the side of my bed cause I was scared my son would fall while asleep, the nurse just told me that she have things to do and walked on, my mom kept wanting too report her but I didn’t wanna take her bread away from her I just practiced patience and it was really the hardest thing, I hate hospitals In general just because of how badly the nurses treated me, I couldn’t ask for help, nothing. Everyday I told my parents I want to leave and I could see the hurt in my mothers eyes, I hate thinking about it cause no one would understand unless you there, I hope this goes viral and people do something about the verbal abuse and negligence.


  9. Nadine Sabor says:

    Such a great read, and oh what an eye opener. I have been to government hospitals in CPT, and just like you the experience was horrifying. I sat with my loved one, for hours in a make shift waiting room, just like in your story, it was cold. They had no blankets, we had to bring our own blankets from home. My loved one received a drip, they didnt even give him a stand where the drips are meant to go on, and he ended up sitting the entire night holding the drip by himself. Morning came, we as visitors were forced out, and patients received their awful so called breakfast, which was the taaiest oats ever or a sandwich which looked worse than the ones government schools provided back in the day. Sad that our government and country focuses on other things which is more unimportant than our healthcare systems and hospitals. So sorry and sad, for you and the lady mentioned who lost her baby, and all the other ladies who had been treated like scum after what should have been the most wonderful experience in your lives. Your baby is a blessing. Enjoy every moment you have with her. And may we spare a thought for the next batch of ladies going into those wards, to deliver. Sjoe! 31 never had a baby, but this scares me! Help ons almal tog God!


  10. Robyn says:

    It’s so sad reading this, no person should ever have to go through this but it happens on a daily basis and it needs to be taken care of.

    I gave birth 6 years ago at Karlbremmer, worst experience. I had my first daughter fairly young at 19 so I was criticised the day I checked in at Karlbremmer and I almost lost my baby at 41 weeks due to them not picking up that I had pre-eclampsia, ended up having a c-section with my blood pressure sky high. About a few hours after birth I ended up having 2 seizures from the eclampsia just as my family and friends came to visit me that evening. The nurses were absolutely useless, including the doctors. My family said I was laying there, oblivious to everything an unresponsive.

    The nurse then informed my aunt that I will be transferred to Tygerberg hospital because they ‘don’t know what to do with me’ . I was taken into an ambulance where there was no one with me, boyfriend and the time was not allowed to go with me, neither was a medic present with me. They put my baby next to me and threw a blanket over us – bare in mind, I’ve just had 2 seizures and I have no idea what is going on around me. Once I got to Tygerberg hospital, the doctor on duty wasn’t even aware as to why I was transferred there, luckily my family followed the ambulance and was able to explain what happened. The first 2 days of my daughters life I can hardly remember. It was a horrible feeling, I never wanted to go through something like that again. Majority of the doctors and nurses at our state hospitals don’t care, they are not compassionate and they make you feel like a las. Luckily the doctor who saw to me at Tygerberg was there for everything. He saw to my needs and assisted where he could, no matter how hectic things were going at the hospital.

    Luckily with the birth of my second daughter I was fortunate enough to have medical aid and do it privately, I must say it was a 100x better than my first experience.

    But my hearts go out to everyone who has no other choice but to use state 😦 .


  11. Natalie says:

    This story brings flashbacks from my experience at GSH. I was expecting my first baby, was about 6 weeks pregnant, started bleeding, I then went to my GP whom gave me a letter to go to GSH. Myself and husband arrived there, was then told my husband cannot wait with me, he needed to wait at reception area. I had to sit there all by myself. After a wait of 2 hours, I was then called in a small room to the gynea. She then did an internal scan after she was done, she told me to get up, get dressed and come to her desk. She then told me to prepare myself for a miscarriage as fetus is busy coming down. I then asked her if there is any way they can help to save the baby. She told me there’s absolutely nothing they can do… I must just go home and wait!!!! Really, how cold can you be to just tell someone to go home and wait for a fetus to come down. After they already told me to sit alone, I had to go to my husband all by myself and give him the news. I would never want to go to this place again! After going home “TO WAIT” I started bleeding again after a day or so, then went to a private gynea, only to be told that there was absolutely nothing wrong, baby was all good and growing 🙂 She’s 5 years old now.


  12. Hilary says:

    What an awful experience for you and your newborn baby to have had to go through. My sister was in that hospital as she had advanced stage terminal cancer and the shocking treatment by most of the staff in the wards was dreadful. She eventually refused treatment and food and our family were told that she should be removed so that her bed could be available for another more deserving patient. I told the doctor that we could not just move her to home as there was no one there during the day and we first needed to get a carer in place. All the time she was there, about a week and a half, I doubt that she was ever given a bath. A friend managed to get her admitted into the frail care at Woodside Sactuary in Rondebosch and an ambulance was ordered for 8am and by 4.30pm had not arrived, so my nephew went and fetched his mother and took her to Woodside Sanctuary in his car, where she spent her last 11 days and where she had the most wonderful caring from their magnificent dedicated nursing staff.


  13. Shelley Swart says:

    I’m sorry you had such a terrible time. I gave birth at GSH 7 years ago and now on the 16 Jan 18. My first born was via emergency csec after 29 hours of labour. Yes I waited 5 hours for a bed and when I had my bed it took long for them to take me to be induced. Other then that the anesthetis and pead were amazing and allowed hubby to cut the cord and take pics of which they took the camera and took pics. Within 5 days we were home as a family.

    My second born, I went into labour at midnight and I was seen to immediately, monitored and scanned as we debated that baby was breech or not. I was sent to the labour ward to be monitored, they came and did the rounds and approved my csec.

    They took me in, spoke me through it all, we laughed and chatted. They bought my hubby in and started. They took pics, showed me baby and discovered he had problems with his lungs. I asked to hold him and they said no, he needed oxygen asap. Baby spent 8 days in NICU and I was sent home after 3 days.

    Nobody is perfect but if you treat them with respect, you will receive respect. I can’t say anything bad, just goof luck.


    • Charlene Achilles says:

      Hi Shelley
      I agree 100% with you.
      My family and I are very greatfull for the excellent service of GSH. My sister and brother)(Elizabeth Achilles & Neville Luyt) were patients there and the staff & doctors were extremely helpful.
      Thanks Again GSH..


  14. Chantal says:

    Shana congrats on the birth of your baby. My daughter also had a bad experience at Mowbray maternity. She was 18 and her blood preasure spiked was rushed to the hospital having developed belspalsy. At Mowbray they induced her and let her lay there with the high blood pressure for a full day and night before deciding to perform a C section. After the birth she had excruciating headaches and could not lift her head to tend to her baby. After day 3 I insisted on staying by her side and keeping her breast in her babies mouth so she could feed. By 12 that night I started making such a noise in the ward to get a doctor to see her. Eventually at 7 am the next morning she was transferred to ghs. Another nightmare. She ending up having fits with the baby laying next to her at ghs. The trsf her to high care where they ran test. They discovered eventually after 2weeks of fits and still suffering head pain that the anethetist must have done something when he gave the epidural. She had spaces or pockets in her spine and had to have a lumberpunch. In all this the doctor gave instructions that she had to lay flat for the fluid to stabilise. The nurse sitting watching her and I say sitting watching her refused to bring her a bed pan and said she could get up if she wanted to use the toilet. After getting up she suffered fits that night. She is okay now and her balspasy face as rectified itself but that bad experience has left me chilled because at least I was present most of the time to speak on her behalf.


  15. Olivia Maralack says:

    I am glad that you decided to tell your story. Sunday would be a month since my mother passed on. You see my mother was admitted to Groote Schuur a week after she had an operation to remove her galbladder (at Victoria Hospital). After a month of constantly in and out of Victoria Hospital. Then she had an emergency op because she had sepsis which the doctor’s didn’t even pick up and she was there for a week. Then almost three weeks in ICU where i must commend on one nurse who was extremely helpful and kind and understanding. The others just had a snotty attitude. You were almost afraid to ask them something because just their attitude towards you said much. Then she was moved out of ICU into the general ward but in a seperate room on the F Floor. I arrived one evening only to find my mother in her own faeces. It was also then that I discovered that the plasters were ripped from her leg, leaving scars on her legs where the pipe for the urine bag was stuck onto. Even bedsores which seemed painful. That Sunday I cleaned my mother up. When I asked the nurses they said they didn’t know; they just arrived for their shift. If you had a query at visiting hours at night that is the answer you got. When i request a bigger adult nappy, I was informed there a none. They only have mediums and they still have to order but it would take two weeks to arrive. The Tuesday (17th of April) we were contacted by the hospital to inform us that the doctor wanted to see us. We arrived there on the Thursday morning and no one even knew why we were there. Eventually they contacted the social worker who contacted us. We had to wait until the doctor came. A different one like the ones before. We tried to understand what he was actually saying to us, but making out between his foreign accent and what he was telling us really didn’t make sense. Basically they couldn’t treat my mother further and there was no need to treat her further other than the antibiotics that she was on. We were told she going to be transferred back to Victoria where they will monitor her further and treat her further with the antibiotics. I told him I do not feel comfortable with my mother being transferred back as the previous hospital was the reason she ended up in Groote Schuur in the first placed. That was the 19th of April. The afternoon around 13h20 i was informed she was being transferred to Victoria Hospital.. The evening around 19h00 my stepfather phoned me to say my mom doesn’t look right. He was going to wait for the doctor to come. At 20h15 he phoned, my mom passed away. Still waiting for the doctor to come. Now my question is, why didn’t those interns or doctors or whatever they call them transferred my mother even though she was in no state to be transferred. I am seriously thinking about sueing both Victoria and Groote Schuur for negligence, but what good would it do? it won’t bring my mother back.


  16. Jill says:

    This is so scary and so true on so many levels. The harsh reality of it all is that you must speak out while you are experiencing ill treatment on social media. I did that a couple of years ago at get on Twitter at the time Helen Zille was still the premier. I tweeted her….in literally less than 5 hours I was being messaged to senf my details so I could be called. The head of health for gsh In next to no time assisted me. Why did i have to go to social media to get acknowledgement . Sad state of health our country is in.


  17. imoddigital says:

    I hope you are well on the road to recovery and that your post will inspire many to challenge these institutions. I can’t relate to giving birth but I saw my wife go through it in a private (!) hospital and that was scary enough for me already, so I have so much respect for your strength as a human, woman and mother! May God bless you.


  18. zynoe says:

    this really takes me back I had my second son in a government hospital I only found out at 8 months I honestly don’t want anyone to experience the shit attitude you get from some nurses and to think alot of them are mothers and yet they treat other women I totally get that they might be understaffed but I’m very sorry but u don’t have the right to treat anyone with that level of disrespect no matter what u going through its not acceptable and the way to answer the questions we ask with a laugh or a crap response is childish we ask because we don’t know and shouldn’t feel stupid for it
    we as women can be there for one another but u choose to take your frustration out on the patients rather then the government itself
    I’m willing to assist when I’m in hospital to make things easy for the nurses but it comes from both sides


  19. Lindsay Thomas says:

    Congratulations on the safe arrival of your baby.

    I know that your experience has left you feeling dehumanized but you need to take this further. Surprisingly enough our Government is saying NO MORE to the handling and treatment of patients in facilities.

    Hence The OHSC has been created by the National Health Amendment Act of 2013 and, in terms of section 78 of the Act, the objects of the Office are to protect and promote the health and safety of users of health services by:

    Monitoring and enforcing compliance by health establishments with norms and standards prescribed by the Minister of Health in relation to the national health system ensuring consideration, investigation and disposal of complaints.

    I urge you to send this through as a formal complaint to GSH – Gsh.c& as well as


  20. Suwayba says:

    I d like to respond as a nurse, mother who had X 2 c-sections and normal birth.i also make use of government hospitals and have had some horrific experiences myself and some of my family members.As mentioned in someones comment,I also encourage people to stand up for their rights…..their right to get dignified medical care from every health care professional!SA -government has failed big time in terms of healthcare and yes we should all as individual professionals make it our responsibilty to strive for excellent performanc in our jobs despite our struggles with lack of beds,medical equipment,poor salaries etc.My heart breaks when I hear stories of patients being badly treated,as we forget we are all potential patients. Write ups like these should however be addressed to whoever is the head of the specific institution,as i sincerely feel that some people feel entertained by this and is definitely not gonna stand up for you .Whoever let this woman experience such inhumanity and insensitivity,should be dealt with appropriately.Be this a nurse,doctor,occupational therapist,security guard,receptionist etc

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Marcia Rudd says:

    Please can you get hold of me – this needs to get to the correct channels in the medical field. The HPSCA needs to hear about this ASAP – please reply to this Shana and give me your email address please?

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Tamzin says:

    I won’t go into long detail with my Mom’s story (only because I am extremely busy when I can past this post) but Groote Schuur’s service is absolutely shocking….
    After all the “being left in pain trying to lift your baby, on your own, with no help straight after surgery, etc”
    She was sent back a week later with her stomach split open and her intestines and bowel in her hand to experience the wonderful service all over again. This was due to their own negligence of not stitching her up correctly, to which they mentioned and admitted on…
    To add insult to injury, we then received an outstanding hospital bill for her second visit and stitch up again!!!


  23. Natasha says:

    So terrible how you were treated and so many other people. I have always only gone to Government hospitals and I can relate to a lot of what you noted…. Very sad indeed.
    I try to always prepare friends or family who have not been to such establishments for the worse and hope for a good outcome.
    Good for you for noting this and perhaps someone reading it will have the influence to do something.
    We can only hope….


  24. Tania says:

    I feel it with you. Almost 21 years ago I was supposed to have my baby born naturally at that time St Monica’s. They discovered that my baby was breach and I had to be transferred to Somerset Hospital after having a catheter put in me without anaesthetic. At Somerset Hospital the lady that was lying beside be was told to give birth naturally to her stillborn baby. The doctors that delivered my baby made a comment before delivery “this one needs to be done before lunch”.
    It took 11 minutes from the first cut to the last stitch.
    After my baby was born I never left the ward to eat or even go to the bathroom. I waited until visiting hours when my family came and brought me food. There was a doctor who came around on the 3rd day to check the wound who would literally rip the thick white plaster off. Lucky for me I was one of the last ladies and started tugging on the plaster before she got to me. Only to make the comment “Oohh this one was very busy.” I was expected to fetch the water myself to wash my baby with a c-section wound…
    That’s when I decided to sign the red slip and book myself out of hospital. Only to be told my daughter is not allowed to be discharged yet.
    My bed was given up and I had to sit on a chair until the paediatrician came to discharge my baby…
    I swore never again will I have a baby at a government hospital…

    My dad unfortunately passed away at Groote Schuur hospital almost 6 years ago after having a bypass.
    When I went to hospital the afternoon before he passed away. They insisted we wake him up to eat, knowing that he went into a coma the night before.
    We went home until they called later to ask us to come to the hospital. When we got there we asked if how he was doing and the response was “didn’t they tell you. That’s why they called you… Its not long to go now…”
    Those words will be with be forever… No feeling at all.

    All the best to you and your family. God bless.


  25. Hannah says:

    Sweety no one has a catheter with anaesthetic it is more risky to give u anaesthetic than to give u a catheter. Sorry about your experience. Nurse speaking and personally want to prove u all wrong one day i am an amazing nurse 🙂


    • Hannah says:

      Also they encourage you to get the water yourself to mobalize after an op to speed recovery and what not….but they should have explained this all to you


  26. Fadwa Cozyn says:

    So sorry you had to go through this ordeal, please make contact with me as i would like to help you overcome your trauma.
    I would like to offer a few free sessions of my trained expertise to help you overcome your trauma.

    With love to you and baby
    Fadwa Cozyn

    Liked by 2 people

  27. flagondry says:

    I’m so, so sorry to hear of your totally horrible experience. It is just unacceptable.
    Please do what the first commenter said and send your complaint to the Department of Health – both provincial (because GSH falls under the province) and national (because the staffing needs must be taken into account as they try to roll out NHI. And the Minister needs to push for a bigger piece of the budget.)
    Maybe we need to bring in a new national service for all 18-year-olds, where those suited to caring can do that for a year, given basic training, and those who are not can learn agriculture, building, street repair, childcare or other essential services – and useful skills. With 52% unemployment among young people (assuming my source is correct), there is no good reason for sick people to suffer like this.


  28. Terri says:

    I was considering going for IVF a Goorte Schuur… it is a third of the price of private facility… but in the back of mind this fear of how government hospitals operate keeps coming up!! I think this might have solidified my decision of waiting longer to save go to a private facility!

    I am so sorry you had to go through this! I hope that an investigation has taken place regarding you case!


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