'While they strike, people die'

Johannesburg - A Gauteng man has expressed shock and horror after his 68-year-old father nearly died because of the civil service strike.

"What has become of their oath?" asked Andy Turner, former president of the Golden Lions rugby union and former international referee.

His father, Bobby Turner, only came to on Sunday afternoon in the Sandton Medi-Cinic after he fell ill with flu last week and slipped into a coma in a Johannesburg state hospital, where he had received no treatment.

Lay in his own urine

Turner jnr, from Alberton, said on Sunday that his father lay in his own urine for nine hours on Friday at the Charlotte Maxeke Hospital, dehydrated and with an oxygen mask on his ear.

This came after he was apparently turned away from the Natalspruit hospital due to the strike and a Netcare hospital requested an admission fee.

The family's nightmare began on Thursday when Turner snr became so ill that he was unable to speak and lost consciousness at times.

"I called an ambulance," said Turner jnr. "Natalspruit turned him away due to the strike. I called the Netcare Clinton clinic, but they wanted R50 000 before admitting my father.

"The receptionist said: 'If you don't have money, don't bring him,'" said Turner jnr.

His father was taken to the Charlotte Maxeke hospital.

"When I got there, my father had been lying for nine hours in his own urine, without treatment, in casualty. His drip had been pulled out and blood was running down his arms.

War zone

"It looked like a war zone around him; used needles lay around and cabinets stood open with high schedule medicine.

"A nurse in civilian clothes whispered that she was sorry she couldn't do more, but that she feared for her life and I wasn't to know that she was a nurse."

Andrew Boden, head of ER24, intervened and organised for Turner snr to be transferred to the Sandton Medi-Clinic's high care unit.

"These people fortunately kept saying it was about saving my father's life, not about the money.

"The intern told me that if we had brought my father to the Medi-Clinic four hours later, he would have died," said Turner jnr.

"I am now making it my mission to fight for the rights of people like my father, who don't have a medical aid and have to rely on state hospitals.


"I have sympathy for the strike, but nurses took an oath to help patients and are part of an emergency service.

"While they strike, people die."

Mandla Sidu, spokesperson for the Gauteng health department, said they would investigate.

Netcare spokesperson Mandy Toubkin could not be reached for comment.

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