“The Premier, Dr Zamani Saul, must put his money where his mouth is and rescue this hospital because we cannot work under these conditions.”

BROKEN: Staff at the Prof ZK Matthews Hospital in Barkly West threw out all the broken equipment and beds, blockaded the entrance gate and set it alight. Picture: Soraya Crowie

THE ENTRANCE to the Professor ZK Matthews Hospital in Barkly West was blockaded with patient beds, mattresses, trolleys, suction machines and burning tyres yesterday morning.

The inside of the building was also trashed – with syringes, medical waste and supplies strewn all over the floor – after hospital workers said that their cries were going unheard.

“We want to know if the MEC for Health is in Dubai or on honeymoon, as she has not returned to the hospital to assist in ensuring that there is basic service delivery.”

The workers stated that the items that were set alight at the entrance to the hospital were “redundant beyond use”. “We cannot expect patients to lie on mattresses that are so soiled.

“We demand that the interdict that was obtained against Nehawu members, ordering them to return to their posts, be withdrawn with immediate effect. We are not simply fighting, we are fighting to provide decent care for our patients. We do not wish to be held responsible for any deaths due to the severe lack of resources and severe staff shortages.

“The Premier, Dr Zamani Saul, must put his money where his mouth is and rescue this hospital because we cannot work under these conditions.”

The workers stated that only vital emergency cases and maternity patients were being seen to at the hospital.

They added that a portion of the ceiling came crashing down last week in one of the toilets while a cleaner was busy mopping up the water that had flooded the bathroom.

“We do not know where all the water is coming from – there is water from underground and from the roof. The toilets remain blocked and are out of order.”

Staff said that no attempts have been made to address their concerns, including the lack of medical supplies, no medication, plus a severe shortage of staff.

“More and more doctors are resigning and staff are not being replaced. There are no sterile gloves for birth deliveries and internal examinations while nylon 0/2 sutures are being used to stitch patients during vaginal procedures instead of the prescribed vicryl 0/1 – which amounts to medical negligence.”

They added that there were no kitchen or cleaning staff over the weekend and that security staff had to double up as porters.

“The EPWP workers had to manually unblock the sewage drains and then go into the kitchen in the same set of clothes they arrived in to prepare meals for the patients on Saturday and Sunday.”

They stated that there are also no toilet rolls and that they were waiting for the procurement process to be concluded in Kimberley before they could be provided with supplies.

Staff said they had not received any counselling following the rape of a patient at the hospital.

“No additional security measures have been implemented to protect patients or staff.”

The spokesperson for the MEC for Health, Lebogang Majaha, said that MEC Mase Manopole would address the issues raised at the Professor ZK Matthews Hospital today.

“The MEC has expressed her disappointment, since she is in the process of engaging organised labour regarding the implementation plan to address staffing challenges as a matter of urgency at health facilities throughout the Province. MEC Manopole further reiterated her commitment to continue engaging at all times with organised labour, as they indisputably play a meaningful role in the public health sector,” said Majaha yesterday.

“Primary health care, as espoused by the Presidential Health Compact, is universally accepted as a key pillar of the National Health Insurance, and therefore remains one of the top priorities of the MEC’s commitments.

“The MEC apologises to all communities affected by these unnecessary actions and reassures them that the Department of Health has put proper contingency measures in place to restore stability and ensure that health services are delivered smoothly and without further interruptions.”