Home News NC ill-prepared to deal with second wave, warns health union

NC ill-prepared to deal with second wave, warns health union

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Medical professionals call for immediate lifting of the moratorium on the appointment of medical staff

Pictures: Soraya Crowie

THE DEMOCRATIC Nursing Organisation of SA (Denosa) has warned that the Northern Cape is ill-prepared to deal with a second surge of Covid-19 due to a moratorium that was placed on all appointments in the public sector, as part of cost-containment measures.

Medical professionals and staff staged a picket outside Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe Hospital in Kimberley on Friday to highlight staff shortages and the need to appoint medical specialists.

Denosa provincial secretary Anthony Vassen stated that medical professionals were overworked and exhausted.

“The existing cohort of nurses and doctors will not be able to handle the new wave of Covid-19 as they are already burnt-out,” warned Vassen. “The public health sector was brought to its knees during the first round of infections due to severe staff shortages of clinical personnel and support staff.”

He said that the moratorium on vacant posts would greatly impact health services as facilities were currently operating with a skeleton staff.

“The provision of health services cannot be compromised, especially when planning interventions to combat the coronavirus pandemic.”

Vassen added that during the first wave, no back-up support was available when entire wards became infected and large groups of staff had to be placed in isolation.

“We call for the immediate lifting of the moratorium on the appointment of medical staff. All community service nurses, community service doctors, pharmacists and all other allied health workers and emergency medical services staff must be immediately absorbed.”

Vassen pointed out that despite risking their lives, and those of their families, every day, nurses were still not receiving danger allowances.

“Nurses in the Province are ready to embark on a campaign to convince the Department of Health, the Northern Cape provincial government and the South African government that their actions are strangling the health sector. More nurses, doctors, cleaners and other support staff, as well as community health care workers, need to be appointed to alleviate the burden on scantily-staffed health facilities in the Province.”

Vassen believed that corruption in the health sector had immensely contributed to the slow pace of appointing clinical practitioners, as well as non-clinical staff, during the first wave of Covid-19.

“All individuals and companies implicated in corrupt activity in the Province should be prosecuted immediately. All funds which have been illegally acquired from the coffers of the state must be reimbursed immediately.

“We cannot stand idle and watch how individuals enrich themselves while caregivers have to suffer while trying to deliver a dignified service to the poor and the vulnerable.”

The spokesperson for the Northern Cape Department of Health, Lebogang Majaha, said there had been no impact on the provision of health services.

He added that a special dispensation had been made to appoint community services and intern health care professionals, while discussions were continuing around the appointment of replacement nurses and doctors.