The National Education Allied Health Workers Union (Nehawu) has criticised the Eastern Cape Health Department over conditions in the emergency unit of Livingstone Hospital, Port Elizabeth. Groundup reports that the department has responded that the union must stop pointing fingers and rather help fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sweetness Stokwe, Nehawu regional secretary at Thabo Moshoeshoe region, said: “Since 2018, the hospital has been faced with a shortage of staff. Many senior managers were suspended for fraud and corruption. While some of the posts were vacant because of retirement, deaths and promotions. This unit has 30 staff members – 23 for day shift and seven for night shift. But now there are only six staff members for the day shift, because the rest are sick. In total, 52 staff members at this hospital are COVID-19 positive, one nurse is dead, and another nurse is in ICU. Some of them are in self isolation at home and others in hospital.”
The report says Dr Litha Matiwane, provincial deputy director general for health care services, confirmed the figures.
“We want the provincial management to come up with solutions … The hospitals lack proper personal protective equipment (PPE). Useless aprons are being forced on our members and that leaves them exposed to COVID-19,” said Stokwe. A staff member at the hospital who asked to stay anonymous said: “The management doesn’t care. Only the specialist doctors get quality PPE here. The rest of the staff gets substandard PPE.”
But, the report quotes provincial health spokesperson Sizwe Kupelo as saying: “This is not the time to point fingers … Nehawu should stop the politics and work together with us. This virus knows no politics, union or Department of Labour.”
“Non-sterile gloves and sterile gowns have been delivered on Wednesday. Soft services are being rendered. The casualty (area) has not been cleaned. Top management was suspended; 59 nurses have been appointed for COVID-19 on a one-year contract. The department is in the process of appointing nine doctors for COVID-19; 100 general assistants posts are being processed. The process is unfolding and a memo in this regard was signed last week,” he said.
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