Services at two North West Province hospitals have been disrupted and staff members apparently vandalised various wards. At the same time, doctors, nurses, record clerks and porters are accused of neglecting their duties including ignoring patients requiring assistance after surgery.

Health-e News was told how kitchen staff walked out leaving patients hungry and those who wanted to work say they have been intimidated by strikers at both Tshepong and Klerksdorp state hospitals.

“The smell of waste at antenatal clinic makes it difficult  to  work. Medical waste on the corridors poses an occupational hazard. There is no one at switch board, no one at records for dispensing of files, earlier the gate was blocked and only emergencies were allowed,” said one worker who spoke to Health-e News on condition of anonymity.

The health worker said surgeries are taking place no porters have refused to collect patients and nurses are also refusing to help.

This comes as South Africa level 3 lockdown due to the escalating Covid-19 infections and hospitalisations.  According to provincial health department officials, such a disruption and strike action has dire consequences as testing and contact tracing is being delayed.

Provincial officials issue ultimatum

Provincial administrator, Jeanette Hunter issued a stern warning to strikers.

“This is an ultimatum issued to all striking employees and others who are engaged in  unlawful disruptive activities at institutions of the North West Department of Health,” she said.

“Please note that the strike regarding the non-payment of performance bonuses is unprotected and is accordingly illegal and employees participating in it and associated destruction of state properties, as well as barring health professionals from attending to patients, risk being dismissed from the service on account of misconduct,” said Hunter.

She urged employees to refrain from taking part in an unprotected strike.

“Employees are accordingly warned to abstain from participating in the unprotected strike and associated illegal activities which involve the destruction of government property. The destruction of property and other illegal activities such as the obstruction of access into and exit from the hospital and the intimidation of other employees must stop with immediate effect.

“These activities are placing patients’ safety at risk. This unprotected strike must be ceased with immediate effect and striking staff must return to work immediately,” she said.

Tshepong hospital in Klerksdorp vandalised by strikers who want bonuses

Expensive medical equipment destroyed by strikers according to health officials. Image: Facebook