The municipal health department increased the working hours to accommodate those who couldn’t attend the clinic between 7am to 4pm and to eliminate the long queues, but it didn’t last long.

Some of the clinics in the area went back to closing at 4pm because the extended hours put a strain on staff in the clinics, where there was often only one person working in each department. There was no budget for the overtime work put in by health staff.

Nompumelelo Sibiya*, a professional nurse, said: “It’s our duty to provide quality health care but it’s very difficult to do that when there’s only a few of us. We end up providing a very poor service to the patients.”

People in this municipality rely on the clinics within walking distance so they don’t have to spend money on transport to get there.

MN Cindi Clinic has continued with the extended hours but it has been difficult to eliminate the long queues. More people are using this clinic now as it closes late.

Ben Mahlangu*, a  patient, said: “I have moved from the clinic where I used to get my diabetes medication because they closed early and I can only go to the clinic after work. I now go to the one that closes late.”

The municipality did not want to comment.

* names changed.