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‘Hospital staff turned us away’

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The workers have demanded an engagement with the department after they handed over a memorandum of grievances in 2019

THE SEATS at Galeshewe Day Hospital were empty yesterday as patients were apparently turned away by staff members who had downed tools.

According to staff at the day hospital, the Northern Cape Department of Health had failed to honour a commitment to meet with the staff on Monday.

The workers have demanded an engagement with the department after they handed over a memorandum of grievances in 2019.

Four trade unions representing health staff – Nehawu, Hospersa, Denosa and the PSA – have however dismissed claims that the workers were on a go-slow, despite claims by patients that only emergency cases were being attended to.

The deputy provincial secretary of Denosa, Gilbert Sak, said yesterday that services were not interrupted, adding that staff were only picketing during their lunch hours.

He added that the department had promised, through its spokesperson Lebogang Majaha, that an engagement session had been scheduled with the trade unions on Monday.

Yesterday, Sak also slammed the MEC for Health, Mase Manopole, after her department failed to show up for the engagement session.

According to Sak, besides being short staffed and lacking proper working tools, the workers were also concerned about their safety.

“This follows Sunday night’s incident where the workers were confronted by armed gangsters, who were vying for the blood of a patient being treated for stab wounds at the day hospital. The staff were threatened as the security guards could not stop the group at the gate,” said Sak.

He said challenges continued to plague the provincial Department of Health while Manopole remained a “smile face for the camera”.

“She is in constant meetings and engagements and makes promises but these are never implemented. She also takes things personally.

“We are tired of her because nothing has improved since she was sworn in as MEC.”

Sak added that he did not blame the community of Greenpoint for being fed up with poor health care services.

“The community is right. The department continues to preach the NHI programme but it will always remain a pipe dream.”

He commended Nehawu for refusing to allow any of its members to enter or drive an ambulance that is not mechanically sound.

Majaha said yesterday that the MEC has confirmed her availability to meet with the unions today as per their request.