Staff held at gunpoint, kidnapped newborns and assaults – more than 30 hospitals across the country have reported serious security incidents in just the last five months, says the South African Medical Association (SAMA). But, says a Bhekisisa report, government’s piecemeal approach may be leaving healthcare workers in the firing line.
The report says exactly how to make South Africa’s hospitals and clinics safer is largely up to facilities. No national guidelines exist as to how health facilities should be protecting workers, patients or property.
The Office of Health Standards Compliance (OHSC), an independent body that ensures that both private and public facilities meet national health standards, doesn’t look at how physically safe the hospitals and clinics it inspects are, admits deputy director of communications Medupe Simasiku. The OHSC is, however, developing basic minimum security standards by the end of this year that will be used to measure facilities against in the future.
The report says as more incidences of violence and crime continue to be reported in more facilities across the country, trade union Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (Denosa) hopes that government intervenes quickly. “Health workers themselves are on the first line of attack”, says spokesperson Sibongiseni Delihlazo. “Our greatest fear is that one night or day, management would arrive at a hospital and find that all nurses have been hacked to death with no clue of what had happened.”Bhekisisa report