Scary calls drive working nurses out

2010-08-24 00:00

THE gates were open at hospitals around Pietermaritzburg yesterday after the government obtained an interdict on Saturday to stop protesting public servants from blockading hospital entrances, but patients still struggled to get medical attention as there were very few staff on duty.

The government also won a court order outlawing intimidation of willing staff and the barricading of hospital entrance.

Service was slow at all hospitals around Pietermaritzburg.

No protesters were at Fort Napier and Edendale hospitals, while at Northdale, Town Hill and Grey’s, a few were hanging around far from the entrances, under very visible police surveillance.

At the East/Boom Community Healthcare Centre there was no sign of protesters, yet patients were not attended to and were sent away without medication.

Harry Lang (71) did not get his medication for various illnesses.

“At my age, with three back operations, it is totally uncomfortable to live without my medication, which includes four pumps for my lungs. I was given this date to fetch my medicine, but now I’m told to leave without it. If I die, is that going to increase their salaries? The government should also have a plan because they knew this was going to happen,” fumed Lang.

A number of other patients with illnesses ranging from high blood pressure to diabetes and tuberculosis agreed that the government should have done more to prevent the strike.

As The Witness was talking to the patients a number of nurses in civilian clothes left the clinic after receiving threatening phone calls.

Said one, “These callers would just ask if we knew that we were playing a dangerous game. We fear for our lives, so we can’t remain here. We want to help the people, but only under normal circumstances.”

National Education Health and Allied Workers’ Union spokesperson Sizwe Pamla said their legal team plans an approach to challenge the court order.

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