Health workers at Gauteng’s three provincial hospitals are outraged over the ill-treatment of hospital patients who go for days without hot food.
They are also unhappy about their “unbearable working conditions”.
Patients at the Helen Joseph Hospital in Auckland Park had to go without hot food for four days last week due to a broken boiler. The nurses had no choice but to supply cold food to hungry patients.
“The boiler is not the only problem we are experiencing. We have pipes leaking on the floors and the water drips on medical equipment and the patients’ beds,” said Florence Nxube, facility manager at Helen Joseph Hospital.
During the same week patients at the Yusuf Dadoo hospital in Krugerdorp went without electricity, heat in the wards and hot water for bathing, due to failed electricity cables in the distribution box. Nurses in the TB ward were using candles and oil lamps to get around at night while patients in the wards suffered the bitter cold.
“We could not use our equipment, machines like the suction machine, which we use when our patient is unconscious. We could not even use equipment to resuscitate patients,” said nursing sister Grieta Coetzee.
Nurses at the hospital have also raised concerns about people getting jobs that they are not qualified for, according to one of the nurses. “Management at this hospital (Yusuf Dadoo) are worse than the apartheid government, there is so much corruption and people are giving their friends jobs, knowing very well that person is not suitable for the job in question,” said a nurse that asked not to be named.
Chris Hani Baragwanath hospital in Soweto was also without electricity on Sunday night. The power only came back in the morning but kept switching on and off. Nursing sister Mavis Mkhabela said the lack of recourse at the hospital made her job difficult.
“If we are going to do our jobs properly everything must be provided for us nurses otherwise we cannot serve our patients properly,” said Mkhabela.
Nehawu spokesperson Sizwe Pamla said hospitals had problems regarding proper management and lack of adequate planning which affected the working conditions of health workers at the hospitals.
“Government should employ proper people to run these hospitals. We want people to be deployed according to their abilities not because they are comrades. It’s been 17 years since the first democratic elections but most of our government institutions are in bad condition.”
The Gauteng department of health’s spokesperson, Simon Zwane, said, “We are attending to these minor issues regarding infrastructure. We have spent over R500m on new equipment.”