Nursing Public Health & Health Systems

Patients fed up with bad attitude from nursing staff

Written by Ayanda Mkhwanazi

During a recent visit to the Daveyton Main Clinic, on Gauteng’€™s East Rand, Ayanda Mkhwanazi of Health-e News Service, found patients complaining of appalling staff attitudes, which hinder effective health service delivery.

bcf9ae130f41.jpg‘€œI don’€™t like the nurses’€™ attitudes at all. It is not nice. They are not patient and they do what they like’€, one patient fumes.

‘€œI wish the nurses had better attitudes. We arrive here as early as 4h00 in the morning and when they open the clinic at 7h30 they do not attend to us immediately. They just walk past us. For example, I arrived here at 5am and now it is 10am. Only now am I leaving the clinic. I wish the government could employ more nurses over the weekends, so the clinic can open for 24 hours. They have too much bad attitude towards the patients’€, says another after having finally getting attended to.

The clinic is packed to capacity, with the young and old waiting in queues. Desperation is written on their faces as they await medical attention. They say the long queues, the drug shortages and the poor attitude of health personnel is a big challenge at the clinic. Connie Mathobela, another patient, says they usually get scolded by the nurses when they ask to be attended to sooner.

‘€œThe nurses tell us they have too much work’€, Mathobela says. ‘€œWhy should they complain to us, the patients? They should take out their stress with their employer, the government.  We are merely sick people seeking help. For them to shout and tell us that they are short-staffed is not right. Sometimes, you will wait until 11am to be attended to. And even then there is no guarantee… you might just get told to return the following day’€, she continues.

Another patient who did not want to be named says she arrived just after 5 in the morning and she was the seventh person in the queue. She had brought her child for immunisation.

‘€œThey don’€™t pay attention to us. They just keep walking past us with nobody explaining anything to us. They make us wait in the queue for ages. I was here at 5:15 and only (got) helped at 9:45. My baby’€™s bottle is finished. He has been crying so much I had to put him on my back to calm him. The nurses are so rude’€, says the distressed mother.

The Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) in the Ekurhuleni District says the critical staff shortage at the clinic has contributed to the situation. The staff shortage is experienced throughout the clinic, including the ARV unit.

‘€œYou will find that the ARV site has two sisters. That is a challenge because the clinic consults more than 300 patients a day. Everybody who is there needs to go by the nurses. And they need to check everything… sugar levels, blood pressure, etc. But that is no more done because of the shortage and long queues we are faced with. We don’€™t have a dietician, we don’€™t have a full-time social worker – and that department is in need of those people because others are really sick. They need grants, food supplements, but without their availability it becomes a challenge’€, says Portia Serote, TAC chair-person in the Ekurhuleni district.

While the nurses are over-burdened, the added challenge is that the clinic has no doctor.

‘€œTwo nurses do the job of five nurses, so you find that nurses no longer do a thorough job because they are so much under pressure. They just give patients their medicines without checking them physically because they are rushing. Others are turned back. There is no doctor fully employed at the clinic. They come in for two hours. So, if you are sick and are in the long queue, you sometimes have to come back another time’€, says Serote.

About the author

Ayanda Mkhwanazi

Ayanda Mkhwanazi is a senior journalist with Health-e News.