'Robbing patients of life-saving care can never be justified' - parliamentary committee on North West protests

Parliament's Select Committee on Social Services has decried the situation in the North West, where there are reports that protesters have been blocking the entrance to the Tshepong Hospital in Klerksdorp.

News24 reported earlier on Wednesday that patients at the hospital were left stranded after angry protesters stormed in and forced doctors and nurses out of wards.

Health services in the province have been affected after the National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union embarked on a strike two months ago.

Chairperson of the Select Committee on Social Services Cathy Dlamini condemned the protesters' actions.

"While we are all concerned about these serious allegations, robbing patients of life-saving care can never be justified," Dlamini said.

"We encourage constructive engagement on platforms put in place to deal with the matter."

She said the provision of life-saving services to patients should always take priority over any discontent.

"It is reported that staff are protesting against a shortage of healthcare workers and alleged corruption in the department. Community workers and counsellors have also joined them [to] protest against low remuneration," she said.

"The committee urges the departments of health at national and [provincial] level, as well as the South African Police Service, to put in measures in place to deal with the matter."  

Earlier, provincial health spokesperson Tebogo Lekgethwane described the situation at Tshepong Hospital as tense and said it was operating with skeleton staff.

He added that only critically-ill patients and emergencies were being attended to.

"We are appealing to people [and say] that they can protest, but they must allow those who are sick to receive medical attention," he said.

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