Town Hill patients still without qualified care

2010-05-14 00:00

MENTAL patients at Pietermaritzburg’s Town Hill Psychiatric Hospital are still being left without professional personnel to care for them.

Registered nurses and matrons at the hospital took sick leave on Monday after they failed in their attempts to force the KZN Health Department to pay them their occupation-specific dispensation (OSD), dating back to 2007.

On Wednesday, only assistant nurses were in charge of most of the wards at the hospital. The nurses have no skills or psychiatric training to work unsupervised with mental patients.

KZN health spokesperson Chris Maxon had said the department is hoping to receive a response from the national office on payment of the OSD by next week.

While action will be taken if people are found not to be sick or if they did not make proper arrangements to cover their posts, Maxon said the threat by the employees to strike is beyond the control of the provincial Health Department.

He said that funds to pay the OSD must come from the national budget.

“The national Health Department has been requested to give a directive on this issue.”

Yesterday, the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union shop steward at Town Hill, Zolile Dube, said there has been no change in the situation at the hospital.

He said employees are still away on sick leave.

“I heard that they will go ahead with the strike on Monday if nothing positive comes their way, but we will make sure that we convince them to do things within the parameters of the law.

“We will follow all the processes, such as applying for permission to strike, but our aim is to prevent a full-blown strike,” said Dube.

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