Dhlomo praises soldiers for helping in hospitals

2010-09-10 00:00

THE KZN Health Department is indebted to the South African Military Health Service (SAMHS) for its “sterling” and “selfless” contribution in helping in hospitals during the public servants’ strike, Health MEC Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo said yesterday.

He was handing over certificates of appreciation to members of the military who helped out with various tasks during the strike.

The event was held at the Bluff army base in Durban.

The army members were from Free State, Gauteng, Northern Cape and Western Cape.

Dhlomo said 301 personnel were sent to King Edward VIII, Prince Mshiyeni Memorial, Mahatma Gandhi Memorial, Dundee, Ladysmith, Manguzi, East Griqualand and Usher Memorial hospitals.

They included nurses (specialists in midwifery, trauma and intensive care), pharmacists, social workers and support staff who helped with administrative and cleaning duties.

“These officers managed to save babies. They looked after the ill, fed and changed patients, cleaned floors and washed the laundry.

“I do not want to imagine what would have happened had they come later than they did,” said Dhlomo.

Thousands of nurses, cleaners and administrative support staff deserted their workplaces for three weeks, paralysing healthcare service delivery in the province.

Dhlomo said some hospitals did not have any staff members, but the soldiers came in and ran them with discipline.

Head of KZN’s military health services, Colonel S.C. Baloyi,said they had three shifts to manage at the hospitals.

“It was a daunting experience for us, especially having to deliver the very high number of babies. We are not used to it, but we had to call in more of our experienced doctors and nurses,” he added.

The department overspent its budget by about R2,3 billion in the last financial year.

An official said the strike will have a negative impact on the finances of the department.

However, he would not speculate as to how much the overall cost to the department will be.

“We will know the cost in rands and cents once we are invoiced by the private hospitals.

“Figures from all hospitals will be put together to know how much it cost the province to outsource the nurses.

“… Once the figures are ready, the public will be informed,” said Dhlomo.

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