Doctor murder forces review of facilities
Johannesburg - Security at all health facilities will be reviewed after a doctor was murdered at the Middelburg hospital, the Mpumalanga provincial government said on Wednesday.
"The government has identified safety and security as one of the priorities in the Medium Term Strategic Framework; as a result the safety of our patients and health care officials is paramount in this administration," Mpumalanga premier David Mabuza said in a statement.
Mabuza visited the hospital where a 32-year-old patient allegedly stabbed Dr Senzosenkosi Mkhize in the chest, and stabbed the wrist of a security guard who tried to intervene, on Tuesday.
Mkhize was working in the out-patient department, where the patient had gone for a follow-up consultation.
The guard was admitted to the same hospital in a stable condition. Mkhize was transferred to a nearby private hospital in a critical condition and died later in the day.
The patient fled the scene and was still at large.
Mabuza said Health MEC Dikeledi Mahlangu, Education MEC Reginah Mhaule, Safety and Security MEC Vusimuzi Shongwe and Public Works MEC Clifford Mkansi would chart a process to review security at health facilities in the province.
The Health Professions Council of SA (HPCSA) said on Wednesday the news of Mkhize's killing was horrific.
"This horrific incident is unacceptable as our practitioners are treating the public, caring for those who are in need of quality healthcare," acting CEO Marella O'Reilly said in a statement.
"We, as the public, should be applauding them for the work they are doing - not attacking them."
O'Reilly said the safety of health practitioners was an ongoing concern by the regulator. Incidents like these were forcing health practitioners overseas, she said.
Shongwe said security guards must search everyone entering a state institution, including hospitals, to make sure they were not carrying weapons.
He condemned the murder and regretted that the incident happened in a government establishment.
"Through our security management officials, the department will also establish how the suspect gained entry to the hospital with a knife, without the security guards detecting him, and steps should be taken against those guards who failed to perform their duties as required," he said.
The Police and Prisons Civil Rights' Union (Popcru), Democratic Nursing Organisation of SA (Denosa) and National Education, Health and Allied Workers' Union (Nehawu) were shocked and angered by the killing.
The unions blamed the lack of security and poorly trained guards for the incident.
Denosa spokesperson Asanda Fongqo said: "As Denosa we are concerned by the safety and security of healthcare workers in the province as this is not an isolated incident, this issue needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency if we are to overhaul our health system."
"It is unfortunate that our hospitals have been turned into warzones where people do not feel safe because of government's ill-conceived policy of privatisation and outsourcing," Nehawu spokesperson Sizwe Pamla said.