Hospital will ponder doctor’s ‘white mentality’ comments

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Bela Bela Hospital management said it would reflect on allegedly racist comments made by a doctor to Democratic Alliance (DA) MP and spokesperson for health in Limpopo Lindy Wilson, reports News24. The doctor lashed out at Wilson during the party’s unannounced oversight visit to the hospital. He accused her of approaching matters with a “white mentality”.

The report quotes Wilson as saying she would be laying charges with the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) and the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) for the doctor’s “unethical behaviour”.

Hospital spokesperson Bhuti Moagi says Wilson was overreacting about laying a complaint with the SAHRC. He added that the law would give the doctor an opportunity to give his side of the story. “I think it tells a story that people are just very sensitive. And there is a reason why the doctor made those comments,” Moagi said. Moagi said the way in which people of different races, “whites and blacks”, communicate with each other brought back their past experiences. He said the hospital would reflect on what happened during the meeting and would then decide on the way forward.

The report says upon arrival, Wilson explained the reason behind the unannounced visit was that there were reports that a patient had died after being turned away, along with other patients, by nurses over the weekend. She identified a doctor at the meeting as having been present when patients were denied service, which resulted in the outburst. The doctor responded by saying he would not allow Wilson to accuse him of something he had not done and stressed she should retract her statements.

“That’s a white mentality, she can leave if she wants to. She is not going to come here and accuse me. It is a white mentality that you are raising, and I am raising that,” the doctor said. Wilson stormed out of the room, calling the doctor’s statement “racist”. Moagi added that the hospital was not aware of the incident alleged by Wilson.

The report says following the altercation, the DA continued with its oversight visit, where it found some equipment was not in working order and many were marked “condemned”. In the high care ward, where there are four beds, one of the two heart-lung machines was due for a service. There was also no functional mobile X-ray machine.

Patients in need of intensive care are referred to Mokopane and Polokwane Hospitals.

Moagi explained that the machines were to be serviced by technicians soon, and that others were due to be serviced in October.

Moagi said the challenges facing the hospital should not overshadow the good work of hospital staff. He added that the hospital welcomed oversight visits, as it had nothing to hide. “We should not only dwell on the negatives but also the positives, because once you do that, you are going to demoralise the staff and once you do that it becomes a problem,” Moagi said.

Wilson said shortcomings at hospitals in the province would be addressed in Parliament soon.

Meanwhile, the report says, the SAHRC has confirmed that it had received a formal complaint from Wilson. Provincial spokesperson Victor Mavhidula said the commission would register the complaint, assess it and thereafter investigations would begin.

“Depending on the outcome of the investigation, we may take it to the equality court if needs be, we have many options to resolve it. If we find that it’s possible to conduct remediation we will do so…,” Mavhidula said.

He has also urged the community to understand that the SAHRC condemns any act of racism. “It doesn’t matter from which race it comes from but as long as one conducts him/herself in a racist manner we condemn that, because we want to build one nation that is united,” he said.

News24 report

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