26 May 2018


Parliament condemns the blocking of Tshepong Hospital 

by: Nthusang Lefafa   date: 11 May 2018

Parliaments’ Select Committee on Social Services has decried the action of protestors blocking the entrance to Tshepong Hospital in Klerksdorp, which is preventing doctors and ambulances from entering the hospital grounds.
Nurses and doctors have been prevented from carrying out their duties due the recent strike in the Health Department, led by health workers’ unions Nehawu and Denosa.  Patients on chronic medication also failed to receive their medication at Tshepong Hospital because they were denied access. 
Chairperson of the parliamentary committee, Cathy Dlamini, said the provision of life-saving services to patients should always take priority above any discontent.
“While we are all concerned about these serious allegations, robbing patients of life-saving care can never be justified. We encourage constructive engagement on platforms put in place to deal with the matter,” Dlamini said. 
Early this week Nehawu convened a shopstewards council in Bokone Bophirima province to make concrete assessment of the current strike at both the Department of Social Development and the Department of Health there.
Nehawu Provincial Secretary, Patrick Makhafane, said the union does not enjoy the suffering of patients but it is within the workers’ rights to embark on strike action if their grievances are not heard.

“The strike at the health department has been ongoing for the past three months. Strike action has been unnecessarily protracted due to unwillingness of the department to concede to workers’ demands. This has left the public without services and further pushed the department to a total state of disarray. It has been proven beyond reasonable doubt that the provincial government does not care about the people they are tasked to look after,” Makhafane claimed.
He said his union was cooperating with the inter-ministerial task team led by Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma to assist the health department.  
Makhafane said skeleton staff would be deployed to various hospitals including Tshepong Hospital.
“We are currently engaging our members about the possibility of allowing a skeleton staff to begin with the distribution of medicine pending the outcomes of the progress report to be tabled to us. Our view is that this strike action has been protracted unnecessarily and lasting solutions would have to be found as soon as possible to return everything to normalcy. The community can no longer suffer and be denied medical care in public health institutions. We are concerned about patients who are on chronic medication who have not been able to receive their medication due to the non-delivery of drugs from the drugs depot,” he said. 
Meanwhile, the provincial Department of Health encouraged management at hospitals to open cases of intimidation against those who are forcefully removing medical staff from their workplaces. 
“We have encouraged management at hospitals to open cases of intimidation against those who are removing doctors from wards and blocking hospital entrances. The department has spoken with the South African Police Service (SAPS) so that they patrol affected hospitals to assist security staff,” said provincial spokesperson, Tebogo Lekgethwane.