KZN, FS hospitals shut down

2009-06-23 16:57

Johannesburg - Some KwaZulu-Natal and Free State hospitals were shut down on Tuesday as doctors took to the streets in protest over delays in implementing a new salary scale, the SA Registrars Association (Sara) said.

"Only hospitals in KwaZulu-Natal and Free State were shut down due to the strike action on Tuesday.

"Gauteng and the Eastern Cape decided to await the outcome of tomorrow's [Wednesday's] meeting," Sara president Lebogang Phahladira said.

The SA Medical Association, representing doctors, would meet government over the implementation of the occupation specific dispensation - a revised salary structure intended to improve the salaries of public sector workers - on Wednesday.

Protesting in silence

A total of 450 public sector doctors protested outside the Nelson R Mandela Medical School in Durban.

They vowed to wear red and hold a silent protest on Wednesday.

"We will stand here tomorrow [Wednesday] and there will be no singing out of respect for those patients dying and suffering from HIV/Aids and TB," said Dr Rinesh Chetty.

He was addressing the doctors at the medical school on the second day of a strike by public sector doctors.

"Doctors will show their compassion by wearing red on Wednesday because we want government to take HIV and Aids seriously."

Motorists hoot in support

He told Sapa the strike was not only about wages, but also about the deteriorating conditions they had to work under.

Dozens of motorists hooted in support of the white-coated doctors who had lined Umbilo Road outside the medical school since 09:00.

Several Durban hospitals were affected by the strike. The KwaZulu-Natal health department said in a statement that King Edward VIII, Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central, Addington and Prince Mshiyeni hospitals were only taking emergency cases.

Department spokesperson Chris Maxon said the other Durban hospitals were operating with skeleton staff.

Maxon said other districts in KwaZulu-Natal reported 100% attendance.

"We are also told that in areas such as Pietermaritzburg, doctors used their lunch breaks to go out and picket and come back to their patients, which we view as a mature and responsible step."

MEC helps out

Provincial health MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo said the provision of health care was a constitutional imperative which the department would work hard to protect.

"For this reason, we brought in the... military health services to assist in some hospitals around Durban from last night.

"We are calling on all retired and private doctors to come out and assist where they can."

Dhlomo had also stepped in to help at various hospitals around Durban.