Protesters eject doctors, nurses from North West hospital

Hospitals in the province are operating with skeleton staff as nurses and doctors fear coming to work due to intimidation by protesters.

Doctors and nurses were removed from a North West hospital, the provincial health department said today.

Spokesperson Tebogo Lekgethwane said acts of intimidation and disruptions were recorded at the Klerksdorp Tshepong Hospital Complex and the Potchefstroom Hospital.

“In the past two weeks, the department has witnessed unprecedented protests at the two health facilities. It is particularly at Klerksdorp Tshepong Hospital Complex where there unfortunate incidents of protesters forcefully removing nurses and doctors from the wards and preventing others including community members from accessing the facility,” he said.

“On the 8th and 9th May the hospital witnessed escalated acts of intimidation and acts of forced removal of patients and health professionals from the hospital. This occurred after a few protesters were arrested after the hospital opened a case of intimidation with the local police station.”

He said health services continued with minimal interruptions at the Potchefstroom Hospital, although there was a protest there.

“Patients are still being attended and admissions of new patients continues. This however continues under a very unpleasant environment where protests in the gates of the hospital are prevalent.”

The Klerksdorp Tshepong Hospital Complex is a referral hospital in the province.

“Patients from regional hospitals are referred to Klerksdorp to receive tertiary health services. As a result of the ongoing protests, the hospital was forced to release patients back to regional hospitals for management at that level until the situation is normalised. Stable patients have been assessed by doctors and released. Only critical patients remains.”

He said the hospitals operated with skeletal staff as nurses and doctors feared coming to the hospital due to intimidation.

Members of the National Education Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) working at the  department of health in North West had been on strike since February 19.

Lekgethwane said negotiations to end the strike action continued.

“Since the department was put under Section 100 b (1), there is optimism of speedy resolution. The Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi has already had a number of meetings with Nehawu in attempt to find a solution to the impulse.”

He said the administrator would have a meeting with provincial office employees today, as part of efforts to end the protest actions.

African News Agency (ANA)

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