Patients fend for themselves as fearful nurses flee after hospital shooting

19 November 2019 - 12:39 By Naledi Shange
The Witbank Hospital is operating on a skeleton staff after nurses abandoned their posts. One patient was directed to the kitchen and told to make her own food.
The Witbank Hospital is operating on a skeleton staff after nurses abandoned their posts. One patient was directed to the kitchen and told to make her own food.
Image: John C Panella

Nurses fearing for their safety downed tools at Witbank General Hospital after a man barged in and shot dead a patient being treated for gunshot wounds at the weekend.

Patients felt the effect on Tuesday, as the hospital operated on a skeleton staff.

โ€œMy younger brother was supposed to go for his chemo today. There's a strike at general hospital (Witbank). Thereโ€™s no transport for patients to go to Pretoria for treatment,โ€ wrote one person on Facebook.

My younger brother was suppose to go for his chemo today, there's a strike at general hospital(witbank) there's no transport for patients go to pta for their treatment ๐Ÿ™†๐Ÿ™†๐Ÿ™†๐Ÿ™†๐Ÿ˜”๐Ÿ˜”๐Ÿ˜”๐Ÿ˜”๐Ÿ˜ง๐Ÿ˜ง๐Ÿ˜ง๐Ÿ˜ง

Posted by Ayanda Nontlantla Motsepe NaNkosi on Monday, November 18, 2019

Mpumalanga health department spokesperson Dumisani Malamule confirmed the hospital was operating on a skeleton staff.

He said arrangements had been made with other hospitals, including Middelburg, to take high-priority cases.

โ€œThe MEC will be at the hospital this afternoon, meeting the premier and labour unions to discuss safety concerns,โ€ said Malamule.

A nurse who spoke to TimesLIVE on condition of anonymity said it was sad patients had to feel the effect of their protest action.

โ€œSadly, if we donโ€™t go to extremes, no one hears us,โ€ she said.   

There has been strict access control at the hospital since the shooting.  

However, visitor Sontoyi Nyembezi managed to get inside and address patients on camera, exposing the conditions they faced.

Patients told her that nurses had taken their files and they were not being attended to.

โ€œThey pointed us to the kitchen and told us to go make ourselves food,โ€ one patient told her.

Another said she was yet to have her adult nappy changed.

A week before the shooting, a patient being treated for stab wounds was โ€œfinished offโ€ by a man armed with a knife at All Saints Hospital in Ngcobo in the Eastern Cape.

TimesLIVE reported in June that two men fighting at a tavern were taken to casualty for treatment but got involved in a shootout at the hospital. A policeman intervened and no one was hurt.

National Democratic Nursing Organisation of SA (Denosa) spokesperson Sibongiseni Delihlazo said CCTV cameras, metal detectors and better security gates were needed at hospitals.

Meanwhile, police are still searching for the suspect involved in the weekend shooting.


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