Last bid to rescue McCord Hospital

2013-09-23 00:00

WORKERS at Durban’s 104-year-old McCord Hospital want its board of directors to be dissolved and replaced by an interim board.

They are also expected to head to the Labour Court today to file papers to stop their retrenchment.

The workers believe they could better negotiate with the KwaZulu-Natal Health Department, because the present board “show no interest to their future”.

At the weekend, workers said they have no confidence in the current seven members who make up the hospital board.

By yesterday, the facility was closed, with workers only responding to emergency cases. Hospital wards are now empty.

A verbal confrontation allegedly took place at the weekend when a man who identified himself as Gerard Ronan arrived in the hospital to lock the gates.

Agitated staff members demanded legal documents authorising the action. Police were later dispatched to control the situation.

The iconic facility was supposed to have shut its doors by Friday morning, but workers, unionists and members of the public opposed to the move. They want the hospital to be taken over by the government.

Yesterday, National Education Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) branch chairperson Mpumelelo Ngidi confirmed that the emergency unit was still open. “We cannot risk patients’ lives,” he said.

Ngidi said over the weekend about five patients were treated in the emergency unit.

He claims they have invited the board several times to explain the developments. “But they have failed, instead we get everything through the media.”

After filing papers at the Labour Court today, the group plans to hand over a memorandum to board chairperson Professor Paulus Zulu.

Provincial health spokesperson Sam Mkhwanazi said the department would comment on the issue once there are clear developments.

It is believed that the board demands that the department pay between R50 million and R100 million to cover future claims and liabilities against the hospital. The buy-out negotiations fell through because of a dispute about some of the buildings the hospital wants to retain.

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