Health profession under threat of violence at work

2012-05-01 00:00

VIOLENCE in the workplace is one of the major push factors that drives health care workers to decide to leave their profession.

This is according to South African Medical Association (Sama) acting chairperson, Dr Mark Sonderup.

He said being attacked at work had a very negative effect on staff which weighed heavily on them and affected their decision-making and commitment.

“It ends up chasing them away,” Sonderup said,

In 2011 the Rural Health Advocacy Project said the country is faced with a severe human resources for health crisis. Research done by Africa Health Placements, an organisation that recruits doctors for rural hospitals found in September 2011 that only 35 doctors from the 1 200 doctors who qualified that year remained in rural hospitals after community service.

Sama issued a statement yesterday following the hostage drama at the Life Westville Hospital last week Friday, where police snipers shot dead Bongani Shange (39), who took staff hostage, and in which four people were injured.

Sonderup told The Witness that even though the organisation in not in possession of accurate data, the safety of health professionals is under threat.

Sonderup said it is “serious” crimes that are brought to their attention while many others are not reported. “After the spate of fatal incidents in which we lost colleagues last year and earlier this year, we once again have to not only question but express our extreme concern about the safety of doctors and fellow health workers while performing their duties.”

He said one incident is one too many, adding that health care centres should be places of sanctity, not gratuitous violence. He said Sama wants government to beef up security not only for the safety of the health care staff but the patients as well.

“The public need to demand an acceptable level of safety in our health care facilities.”

Meanwhile Sapa reported yesterday that a woman who was wounded while being held hostage at the Life Westville Hospital, was in a stable condition on Monday following an operation, the hospital said.

“She sustained a gunshot wound to the back and three to the foot. She went into surgery yesterday [Sunday]. The wounds were cleaned up and her toes were attended to by an orthopaedic surgeon,” said hospital spokesperson Leanne Nyiri. Three people — a nurse, a security guard, and a catering staff member — sustained minor injuries from bullet fragments and were all doing well, said Nyiri.


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