Nurses’ union backs nurse after elderly patient tied to bench

Martha Marais, 76, as her family found her shackled to a hospital bench at the Mamelodi regional hospital, 2 June 2019.

The Mamelodi Hospital staffer has been served a notice to suspend, along with three other workers.

The Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (Denosa) in Gauteng has defended a nurse who was implicated in a Mamelodi Hospital incident in which a 76-year-old patient was tied to a bench in a waiting area last week, sparking social media outrage.

The nurse was implicated, along with three doctors and a security guard, and has been issued with a letter of intention to suspend by the Gauteng department of health, which is conducting an investigation into the incident where Martha Marais was tied to a bench while lying on the floor.

Denosa provincial chairperson Simphiwe Gada said nurses were being unfairly targeted because they were the face of the healthcare system, and called for the investigation to be moved from the Gauteng department of health to the health ombud.

“The investigation into this matter must be done by the Office of the Health Standards Compliance (OHSC), where the health ombudsman is located, because this is the only neutral body that as Denosa Gauteng we have full confidence in,” said Gada.

He said the investigation by Gauteng health was “already compromised”.

“They have already prejudiced the nurse through their actions, like misinforming the public about placing the officials on special leave while that did not happen and, in fact, as we speak there is no special leave given to our member,” he said.

Gada said the nurse was served with a letter of intent to suspend on Monday and asked to leave the premises with immediate effect.

“Because nurses are the face of a healthcare system, it has become a discomforting norm that they are the ones to be blamed, even before investigations are done and concluded on incidents which they are alleged to have caused,” said Gada.

Gauteng health spokesperson Lesemang Matuka said letters of intention to suspend were issued to three doctors, one nurse and a security guard.

Gada said that as tragic as the incident was, it was important to highlight areas of concern for nurses and other health workers at Mamelodi Hospital because nurses were often targeted.

At the time of the incident, said Gada, there were more than 71 patients at casualty in various wards who were looked after by just eight nurses.

“Out of these continuing poor conditions, nurses are still expected to perform to the best of their ability and play their advocacy role.

“As Denosa, we must say that it has become extremely difficult to fulfil this role under the current circumstances,” he said.


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