root - February 15, 2023

  • The Wesfleur Hospital servicing Atlantis is overburdened as the area’s two City-run clinics offer only very limited health care
  • Authorities say plans are under way to ease long queues and congestion

Peter Luhanga 

A lack of sufficient healthcare facilities in Atlantis has led residents to campaign for the two City-run clinics in the area to be handed over to the provincial Department of Health and Wellness. 

The two City-run clinics in Atlantis – Saxon Sea and Protea Park clinics – offer limited services to residents, with a focus on family planning, child health, basic antenatal care, and HIV care and testing. 

Residents say anyone who is ill has to go to Wesfleur Hospital, which is overcrowded as a result, with patients sometimes not being seen to despite arriving to queue for treatment as early as 5am. Wesfleur Hospital has also come under fire in the past for lack of patient care. 

Recently paraplegic patient Michael Louw felt so neglected by staff when he went to seek treatment that he attempted to commit suicide by overdosing on sleeping pills he had with him. Louw was subsequently admitted for treatment following his overdose, and discharged on 11 February. 

In an effort to improve healthcare to the community, activists set up the Atlantis Community  Health Organization (ACHO) and submitted a memorandum of grievances to Western Cape MEC for Health Nomafrench Mbombo on 16 August 2022.

Also, an online petition on was also launched by an Atlantis activist Allison Adams with no ties to the ACHO and  has garnered more than 1,000 signatures since being created on 9 November 2022.

Adams is not only pushing for the clinics to be taken over by the provincial department and  have their healthcare services expanded to reduce pressure on Wesfleur Hospital, she is also pushing for the construction of a new hospital in Atlantis. 

Adams, who says she was born in Wesfleur Hospital, said it was unable to cope with the number of patients and “people suffer” as a result. 

Her petition states there were many issues that need to be addressed at Wesfleur, but nothing could be down while residents have to sit for up to three days before being attended to. 

These issues of patients not receiving treatment would be eased if the two clinics were upgraded to primary health facilities rather then the general health facilities they currently operate as. 

“Everyone with a minor illness has to go to Wesfleur Hospital,” said Adams. “We’ve got two clinics that could take away the queues that are outside the hospital.”

She said in addition, the ambulance service was essentially not functioning. She said often when people called for an ambulance, there was no response. 

“There is a call centre in Cape Town, people call, they say they will send an ambulance, they  don’t tell people it will take six hours to send an ambulance.”

She said doctors at Wesfleur Hospital were unable to cope with the demand for their services as they had to treat patients with minor illnesses, call on patients admitted to the wards, and do medical assessments for vulnerable residents seeking to prove SASSA grant eligibility.

“The truth of the matter, it is going to take a long time to get a new hospital and we can’t just wait. Primary health care at the two clinics will relieve the Wesfleur Hospital. We have people travelling to Dunoon Community Health Center to seek medical attention,” she says.

Community activist Ashley Poole, who serves in the ACHO, says Atlantis’s population has grown over the years but the Wesfleur Hospital infrastructure has remained the same.

“Clinics would serve as a conduit to relieve the hospital from everyday attendance. The hospital can’t cope. We have limited number of doctors available everyday. People come for everything at the hospital” said Poole.  

City happy to transfer responsibility

Mayco member for community services and health, Patricia van der Ross, said she is aware of the request to have the two City of Cape Town clinics handed over the provincial department of health, and that the City was open to this.

“For the City Council to approve such a handover, importantly, the Western Cape provincial health department must have the requisite budget available to continue running the clinics, and for a handover agreement to be concluded between the health authorities,” said Van der Ross.

She said a task team was established to address the community representatives’ concerns, and “numerous meetings” have been held during which the community was informed of the challenges in handing over the health facilities. 

As an interim measure, arrangements had been made with the provincial health department for City health to assist with the decongestion of the Wesfleur Hospital, by ensuring that stable chronic patients are seen at Protea Park three days a week on Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays between 8am and 4pm, and at Saxonsea clinic on Mondays between 8am and 1pm.Provincial health department spokesperson Natalie Watlington said since the memorandum of grievances in August last year, the department’s district health team has implemented short to medium term interventions to improve patient experience at Wesfleur Hospital and were working hard to ensure patients have access to an expanded package of primary health care at various access points in Atlantis and surrounds

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