The Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (DENOSA) in KwaZulu-Natal is worried about the failure of the provincial Department of Health to ensure that Addington hospital is in a good and safe state for our members employed there and the community using that hospital.
This is one of the oldest hospitals in the province which caters for almost the entire eThekwini central population. It is sad that this old hospital has not been taken care of by the department resulting in failure to have proper sanitation, working air-conditioning in operating theatres, broken lifts both for emergency and normal lifts (out of ten lifts, eight of are always not working).
The situation is getting worse and it is posing a serious safety issue and human rights violation.
“On a daily basis, our members, patients and relatives risk their lives by entering in these unsafe lifts at this hospital, which sometimes are used to carry used linen from COVID-19 wards, thereby putting lives of everyone at risk of contracting the virus,” says DENOSA KZN Provincial Secretary, Mandla Shabangu.
“When it rains, water just pour inside from the roof to the wards, because of poor maintenance. We view this as a disaster waiting to happen where the whole building might collapse with patients and our members inside. More often, patients and nurses get stuck inside the broken lifts. Why must our members be the sacrificial lamb for this poor maintenance of the departmental buildings?”
As a stakeholder, DENOSA has tried its best to get the plans of the department in resolving this matter before we experience what we have seen at Life Esidimeni. No plan has been tabled.
As a result, DENOSA calls on the Human Rights Commission and the Department of Employment and Labour to visit this institution and assess the safety of both employees who are our members and the community that is serviced by this hospital.
More strangely, we have seen a memo by the department instructing the ambulance services to divert the patients to other hospitals, which was never discussed with labour. When patients are diverted, it is logical that nurses who provide such service follow the patient.
We are surprised to see that such instruction has been issued that patients must be diverted without giving us a clear plan as to who will nurse these patients on the receiving hospitals, as they are also short-staffed.
We view this decision as poorly planned, because none of the affected employees from Addington and receiving institutions have been consulted but the public is informed about some services being moved to other institutions.
Until this day we do not even know which services or employees who will be affected since there was no consultation with unions or employees.
DENOSA is waiting for the formal processes to unfold, then we can engage or participate on this issue. But until then our members will continue to report to Addington Hospital.
“We view this exercise as rationalization of services by the employer. And the procedure is clear that, for any rationalization of services, it must be presented in the provincial chamber where labour unions and employer engage on bargaining matters.
DENOSA reemphasizes to the department the urgency in dealing with this matter before it is too late.