GroundUp reports that staff at Northdale Hospital in Pietermaritzburg picketed on Tuesday inside the hospital’s premises demanding safer working conditions including more Personal Protective Equipment (PPE’s). This is the second picket in a week. A nurse who asked not to be named said conditions in the hospital were not safe for staff or patients during the Covid-19 pandemic. “Patients who have tested positive are put in the same ward with patients who have other illnesses. We have raised that with the management but they have failed to listen and correct that. Covid-19 positive patients use the same bathrooms. They are not separated from other patients,” said the nurse.
She claimed patients did not have enough food. “Family members are not allowed to bring in food for their loved ones. We witness patients having nothing to eat because hospital food is not enough.” Another nurse who also spoke under condition of anonymity said the hospital was opening more wards to take in Covid-19 positive patients but staff were not trained on how to handle infections. Deputy secretary for National Education,Health and Allied Workers Union (NEHAWU) in the Harry Gwala Region Sihle Makhaye said workers were at risk and management was “avoiding meetings”. Spokesperson for the Department of Health Ntokozo Maphisa said, “There is no shortage of food in the hospital. In fact, not only are three meals served each day but an additional tea and bread in the evening after supper.” Food from visitors was prohibited to combat the spread of Covid-19, he said. On other issues Maphisa said: “The Department will not be responding to labour issues that are currently being resolved.”
by Nompendulo Ngubane