WATCH | Overworked doctors strike for more staff at Northern Cape hospital

04 February 2021 - 10:30

Disgruntled doctors at Dr Harry Surtie Hospital in Upington, in the Northern Cape, held a protest during their lunch hour on Wednesday to draw attention to a lack of staff and overtime hours they say are leading to burnout.

Close to 50 medical staff working at the hospital held posters saying “There’s no vaccine for burnout” and chanting “We want doctors”.

“On average doctors are working their 40-hour work week plus between 100-140 hours of overtime a month. This is not sustainable and is leading to burnout and frustration among doctors,” said their letter of grievances, which was handed over to hospital management during the protest.

According to their letter, the 327-bed regional hospital, which has a 24-hour casualty, labour ward and theatre complex, is staffed by 36 doctors. They say this is grossly insufficient to adequately serve the population in the area.

“As it stands, the Covid wards are full and no doctors have been appointed to work in these wards,” read their statement.

“Only one of 10 Covid posts were filled due to delays and stalling by provincial, despite orders from the minister of health for these appointments to be fast-tracked.”

Doctors have threatened to hold another protest if their grievances are not addressed and said they would consider staging a stayaway if they are not assisted by the department of health by next week.

“We require a written response within 72 hours to our grievances and we want the appointment of 10 medical officers and four community service doctors within the next week.”

The letter was handed over to the clinical manager at the hospital.

The department of health was contacted for a response but none was received before publishing.