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DENOSA Eastern Cape response to suspension of nurses due to death of COVID-19 patient

MEDIA STATEMENT

Thursday, 21 May 2020

DENOSA in Eastern Cape is flabbergasted to learn that the provincial department has suspended five nurses at Grey Hospital in King William’s Town. The suspension of the nurses is nothing other than a mere witch-hunt. DENOSA is dismayed to note that the nurses have become soft targets and scapegoats of the failed provincial health system.  

Instead of the department to focus in resuscitating its dying health system, it is busy harassing nurses. What is more disturbing in the case of Grey Hospital is the fact that the medical doctor who was part of the shift of the suspended nurses has not been touched by the officials. Nurses have been complaining about unequal treatment of health professionals by the management. This case has just proven the unequal treatment and inconsistency of the departmental officials.    

The pandemic of Coronavirus had caught the health system of Eastern Cape off guard. The provincial health leadership and management had been rudely awaken by the pandemic snoring at work. Instead of facing the invisible enemy, they are going for nurses. 

More than ten years ago, DENOSA in Eastern Cape raised a red flag about the ailing health system. DENOSA used many different tactics to get the attention of the bosses of the department but those calls fell on deaf ears. 

The last memorandum we submitted to Bhisho in February 2016 listed the range of hot spot areas that needed urgent attention to save the health system.  On top of the memorandum were gross shortages of staff, lack of working equipment, lack of security and many more. It is now four years later since the last march going to Bhisho was held by DENOSA and none of the demands in the memorandum had been addressed. Eastern Cape has a vacancy rate of 40% in nursing personnel posts and it is increasing. 

We find it strange that the department is having leisure time to suspend nurses while the hospitals are having a crisis of shortage of staff. We need to ask ourselves if the department is committed and serious about combating COVID-19 if it sends nurses home while there are no nurses to deal with the virus. Someone is further dis-servicing the already disadvantaged people of the province. 

The cry of lack of working equipment is a long standing matter and it dates back many years before the arrival of COVID-19 in our province. So, it is not a surprise to witness the senior officials of the department scrambling around the issue of PPEs. It is something that they are not used to. Put simply, the Coronavirus found a fertile ground in the health system of Eastern Cape. It was never, and it is still not ready to deal with the pandemic. 

The province needs staff and working equipment to deal with COVID-19 and our department has none of that. The incompetency of the management and failure of the leadership is passed to poor nurses. 

DENOSA is demanding the reinstatement of the suspended nurses back to work, failure to that we will be left with no choice but approach the legal institutions for relief. We have all necessary and hard evidence that the suspension of the nurses was unwarranted and we view this as an abuse of authority and intimidation of workers.             

End

Issued by the Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (DENOSA) in Eastern Cape

For more information, contact:

Khaya Sodidi, Provincial Secretary

Mobile: 082 775 7734 / 072 573 3315

Land Line: 041 484 7323/4

Website: www.denosa.org.za

Facebook: DENOSA Eastern Cape