Nurses 'forced to reuse' disposable PPE at Gauteng hospital: union

18 August 2020 - 17:28 By Nomahlubi Jordaan
Denosa claimed that at Tshwane District Hospital nurses were being asked to wash and reuse disposable gowns and masks.
Denosa claimed that at Tshwane District Hospital nurses were being asked to wash and reuse disposable gowns and masks.
Image: Gallo Images/Alet Pretorius

Nurses allegedly being bullied and made to wash and reuse disposable personal protective equipment (PPE), plus Covid-19 positive and negative patients being placed together in hospital wards, have been flagged by the Democratic Nursing Organisation of SA (Denosa).

Denosa Gauteng chairperson Simphiwe Gada said on Tuesday they had visited hospitals in the province to check on working conditions.

The facilities they visited included Tembisa Hospital, Tshwane District Hospital, Sebokeng Hospital and Dr George Mukhari Academic Hospital (DGMH). They also visited a Roodepoort warehouse.

“We are more worried about DGMH findings [where] patients are mixed [Covid-19 positive and negative]. This places lives of the community at risk,” said Gada.

Denosa also found that nurses were allegedly being “bullied” at the hospital.

“The CEO should resist bullying and protect workers,” said Gada.

Denosa's Simphiwe Gada says the union will embark on pickets to highlight the plight of health workers in Gauteng.
Denosa's Simphiwe Gada says the union will embark on pickets to highlight the plight of health workers in Gauteng.
Image: Supplied

Denosa claimed that at Tshwane District Hospital nurses were being asked to wash and reuse disposable gowns and masks.

“This is dangerous and puts their lives at risk and in our view contributes to the rate of infection of health-care workers as the quality of the PPE depreciates and will not provide the expected protection,” said Gada.

During their visit to the Roodepoort warehouse, Denosa said it had discovered “substandard” PPE.

“Some hospitals don’t have proper and adequate transport to fetch PPE and they must be assisted in fetching PPE.”

Gada said Denosa would engage the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) on its findings.

The union would also embark on pickets to highlight the plight of health-care workers.

Acting health MEC Jacob Mamabolo has meanwhile assured nurses who were appointed on Covid-19 contracts that their salaries would be paid at the end of August. This comes after reports alleging that at least 80 Covid-19 contract nurses at Dr George Mukhari hospital had not been paid their July salaries.

“MEC Mamabolo has since directed the department to compile a consolidated report on Covid-19 human resource related issues at all facilities by the end of this week to ensure that health workers are not inconvenienced any further,” said the health department.

“It is simply unacceptable that workers are not paid. We cannot expect front-line workers to lead the fight against the coronavirus while on the other hand we are letting them down in terms of their remuneration,” said Mamabolo.

The department said it had appointed more than 681 nurses during this financial year to augment its workforce as part of the provincial Covid-19 response.

“A total of R500m has been budgeted for contracting various categories of workers across all institutions, inclusive of all categories of nurses,” it said.

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