OPINION

NEHAWU strike: Minister must prevent a repeat of Esidimeni tragedy – Patricia Kopane

DA MP says doctors in Klerksdorp are extremely concerned for lives of patients in critical care

Minister must prevent a repeat of the Esidimeni tragedy in North West

24 April 2018

The DA will write to the Minister of Health, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, to urgently request that he ensure proper staffing and resources at the Klerksdorp/Tshepong Hospital Complex in Klerksdorp.

During our oversight inspection, we were shocked when doctors asked us for urgent help on the eve of a planned strike by NEHAWU which would see nurses down their tools. The strike in Klerksdorp is scheduled to begin tomorrow.

The doctors indicated that they are extremely concerned for the lives of patients who are currently receiving critical care. The complex (which includes Klerksdorp Hospital) has more than 1 000 beds.

Without professional nursing staff and proper care, these patients’ lives are at risk. Professional medical staff said this can escalate into “a tragedy that will have a bigger aftermath than the deaths at the Esidimeni Health Care Centre”.

NEHAWU is demanding that North West Premier, Supra Mahumapelo, steps down. During our visit, a group of members barged into the hospital complex singing and dancing amongst the waiting patients. See video here.

The hospital management confirmed they do not have enough security staff to keep order and that they will have to make use of freelance nurses once the strikes begin.

At the Khuma Clinic, in Stilfontein, there is a lack of chronic medications and some patients have been sent home without medication.

Medical staff in North West shared an open letter that was signed by 73 medical doctors. This was published in the Mail and Guardian today.

Herein they state who the biggest losers during the strikes are:

Poor/ homeless;

Disadvantaged;

Disabled/vulnerable;

Those with lack of access to private care; and

Those with chronic illnesses that include HIV, TB, Hypertension, diabetes, psychiatric disorders, etc.

An extract of the letter reads: “As caregivers, we have been silent for too long. We have taken an oath to “do no harm” and in our silence, we have contributed to harm. This cannot go on as we are concerned about methods used which include closure of health care facilities that affect the health of our society. Of note provision of health care is an entrenched Constitutional right in South Africa”.

It is time for Total Change. A DA-led government will always support the Constitutional Rights of patients to receive health care and will ensure that proper resources are available to support our healthcare workers in their important quest to save lives.

Issued by Patricia KopaneDA Shadow Minister of Health, 24 April 2018