Private hospitals open wards for state patients

2010-08-23 00:00

PRIVATE hospitals will continue to care for critically ill patients transferred from public hospitals as the public service strike intensifies.

Many hospitals in the province have resorted to calling in military medical personnel and transferring their critically ill patients to private hospitals as most are operating with skeleton staff who cannot cope with the workload.

At Edendale, at least 2 000 nurses have joined the strike, and there have been violence and intimidation against working staff at Fort Napier and Grey’s, leading to almost total shutdowns.

Sources at these hospitals said they are waiting to see if the situation improves today.

The government obtained an interdict on Saturday banning essential services staff from continuing to strike, while the KwaZulu-Natal government obtained a court order outlawing intimidation and the barricading of hospital entrances.

A source at Edendale said: “We cannot provide any emergency services that require a lot of manpower.”

Psychiatric patients at Town Hill Hospital have been left unsupervised, and were allegedly spotted at a local mall in their pyjamas.

Health Department spokesperson Chris Maxon said they are still facing a desperate situation.

“The workers and the patients coming to hospitals are being intimidated.”

He said their strategy is to continue moving critically ill patients to private hospitals.

The Hospital Association of South Africa (Hasa) and its members said they are working closely with the Health Department to accommodate public sector patients.

“At the moment it’s all hands on deck,” says Hasa CEO Kurt Worrall-Clare. “As soon as beds open up, we are making them available to priority public sector patients.”

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