'Total cruelty to humankind': Nurses lament working conditions in North West hospitals

16 May 2018 - 08:52 By Staff Reporter
Tshepong Hospital in North West. File Photo.
Tshepong Hospital in North West. File Photo.
Image: Gallo Images / City Press / Muntu Vilakazi

Decomposing bodies. Electricity blackouts. Water shortages. These are among the problems nurses are encountering in the North West‚ according to a labour union.

The Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (Denosa) in North West has described what it calls the crippling effects of maladministration in the North West.

"The situation has reached a point of no return for nurses who have been abused‚ exploited‚ neglected and deserted. The poor working conditions have seriously rendered the profession sub- standard service due to system failures aggravated by the corrupt government officials in the province‚" the union said in a statement.

It asserts that:

- Patients are exposed to non-conducive environment whereby beds are shared because of congestion.

- In terms of nutrition‚ patients are eating bread and mince-meat.

- There is no water in some of the sub districts‚ which affects maternity patients severely.

- No medication supplies for chronic patients.

- Non-functionality of backup generators when electricity goes off‚ which exposes patients’ lives to danger.

And that's not even the worst of it‚ the nurses say.

"Nurses are salvaging the situation by using their cell-phones and torches to deliver babies in some of the provincial hospitals in the province‚" according to Denosa. "The linen crisis is so prevalent that patients are utilising their own linen and blankets from home and infection control measures are not observed.

"Non-functionality of mortuary fridges whereby deceased families are not receiving proper care. Smelling mortuaries with bodies of more than 150 days in some district hospitals has become the norm while mortuary attendants and nurses are supposed to wheel the deceased patients to such areas. This is total cruelty to humankind.

"Government’s patients’ transports are so old and not roadworthy that nurses are supposed to escort patients in those transport including ambulances that are not fully equipped."

Denosa said nurses had had enough and were no longer willing to tolerate this treatment.

"They are human beings before they are nurses. They deserve better... Denosa is currently exploring all legal options to put a stop to this situation."

The North West health department has seen unprecedented protests at its hospitals in recent weeks‚ with protesting healthworkers even blocking doctors from entering the premises.

The department is operating under administration and national health minister Aaron Motsoaledi has held meetings with the National Health Education and Allied Workers Union in an attempt to find solutions. Last month‚ military health personnel were also deployed to the province to help out during the rolling protest action.

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