The Gauteng government was today granted an interdict to prevent strikers from intimidating health workers and blockading hospitals and schools.
This follows protesters “(invading) Sebokeng, Helen Joseph, Natalspruit, Charlotte Maxeke and Kalafong hospitals and (forcing) nurses and support staff to join the industrial action, leading to disruption of services,’ said the Premier’s Office.
Meanwhile, this morning doctors described how they were ‘counting the bodies’ in hospitals worst affected by the public sector strike, after a night in which critical patients were left to fend for themselves.
At Sebokeng Hospital in Gauteng, only one sister was at work in the neonatal ward, caring for 42 babies including premature and desperately ill babies.
At Grey’s Hospital in Pietermaritzburg, two nurses had been left in the children’s ward including the intensive care unit. Earlier in the day, nurses and patients’ mothers were assaulted by strikers. Yesterday, remaining nurses received threathening smses telling them to leave the hospital or they would be ‘hauled out’.
Meanwhile, children from Edendale and Northdale Children’s Wards were being re-located to Grey’s Hospital as these hospitals had closed down.
‘The situation is dire, and children will suffer further, and their lives are placed in greater jeopardy. Once again we are all living in fear,’ said one doctor who asked not to be named.
On Thursday night, doctors who had been caring for the children, including feeding, changing and dispensing medicine, came out to find that their car tyres had been slashed.
The bomb squad was called to Wentworth Hospital on Thursday after a bomb threat.
As at most Durban hospitals this week, there was a high level of intimidation of doctors and nurses trying to work. Patients were prevented from entering the hospital and by Friday, only 100 very ill patients remained in the hospital.
Emmaus, Estcourt, Ladysmith, Manguzi and Piet Retief Hospitals have closed down.
‘At Emmaus, on Thursday the unions initially allowed four nurses to work in the morning, but by midday they changed their mind, apparently after consulting with the union leadership and only one nurse was still working,’ said a health worker.
During the night only one maternity sister in maternity was allowed to work and by Friday, no nurses reported for duty. Seriously ill patients, some with severe burns and meningitis, were transferred to La Verna private hospital in Ladysmith.
At Piet Retief Hospital there was a ‘total shutdown’ by 8am on Thursday and patients who had come in to fetch medication including antiretrovirals were turned away.
Manguzi Hospital in the far north of KZN was badly affected and Hlabisa was partially closed, with their patients being referred to Bethesda.
At Rob Ferreira Hospital in Mpumalanga, doctors were at work but were discharging as many patients as possible as only matrons had turned up to work. Outpatients was closed, theatre and maternity were open for emergencies. The ICU had only two nurses as striking workers came into the hospital to take nurses out to join them. Only patients on life support were left in ICU.