Working in fear ‘€“ nurses and doctors

At Edendale Hospital in Pietermaritzburg yesterday morning (Thursday)  a senior member of the hospital’€™s security staff  went through the hospital sjambokking anyone at work including women, according to eyewitnesses.

The gates were blocked by strikers and even doctors were prevented from entering the premises for a few hours.

Nurses at Prince Mshiyeni Hospital in Durban who had worked   on Wednesday despite intimidation spent the night in the hospital as they feared being attacked by strikers.

A theatre nurse said yesterday that patients were being barred from entering the hospital, including those that had come to collect their medicine. She said some nurses had been dragged out of the wards by strikers on Wednesday in full view of the police.

Some nurses and doctors had turned up for work at Ngwelezane Hospital in Empangeni but had been told that they would be targeted yesterday.

‘€œWe heard that we were going to be targeted because they know that we are working,’€ she said, adding that they were all dressing in civilian clothes.

 ‘€œWe are too scared to join the strike because we might be suspended without pay. Some nurses have been suspended in previous demonstrations. We were even told that those that were supposed to go on leave had to wait until this dies down. Those that are sick had to submit a doctor’€™s note before 9am if they were going to miss work,’€ she said.

A doctor from Osindisweni Hospital in Verulam said health care workers were coming to work despite unfavourable circumstances. However, he said it was impossible to refer patients to other hospitals such as Mahatma Ghandi Hospital.

‘€œThey are not taking any referrals because of the strike,’€ he said.

Dr Mahlane Phalane, chairperson of Junior Doctors’€™ Association (Judasa) said the organisation was holding marathon meetings with its members to decide the way forward regarding the current mass action.

‘€œWe understand that access to hospitals has been compromised and that the strike is only gaining momentum. We are going to be holding meetings with our members to discuss our position on the strike,’€ said Phalane.

He said a significant number of their members had indicated an interest in joining the strike.

Meanwhile, Judasa official Dr Bandile Hadebe said that government had been able to find money for the World Cup so it had to find money to pay public sector workers.

Meanwhile, Western Cape MEC, Theuns Botha reiterated that the strike had had no effect on the running of health facilities in the province.

Botha said his department had put plans in place to deal with any effects prompted by the ongoing strike.

“‘€ In the Western Cape our contingency plans remain in place.  Health services will function tomorrow in line with available staff.  Every effort will be made to maintain a normal level of service.  We will contract agency staff where necessary. I want to reiterate that all employees of the Department of Health are essential staff,’€ said Botha.

Civil society movements including the Rural Doctors Association, Treatment Action Campaign and SECTION27 expressed support for public servants and urged government to negotiate fairly with public servants.  

‘€œWe are well aware that a strike will be costly to our economy and society. It will disrupt services, seriously undermine education and health services and cause more demoralisation and polarisation in our communities. We therefore call on government to meet the union’€™s final demands so as to avoid strike action, ‘€ they said.

The group also called for an urgent and final agreement on the minimum level of services expected to be provided by essential service workers.

They also appealed for the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) to work closely with civil society to ensure accountability and honesty within public service.

‘€œPoor service and contempt for the poor by some civil servants undermines the dignity and reputation of all civil servants,’€ the said.

Government offered a seven percent salary increase and R700 housing allowance but workers demanded an 8, 6 percent increase and R1000 housing allowance.


  • Health-e News

    Health-e News is South Africa's dedicated health news service and home to OurHealth citizen journalism. Follow us on Twitter @HealtheNews

Free to Share

Creative Commons License

Republish our articles for free, online or in print, under a Creative Commons license.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Stay in the loop

We love that you love visiting our site. Our content is free, but to continue reading, please register.

Newsletter Subscription