The abrupt protest that halted service at Botshabelo’s Bophelong Clinic was allegedly sparked by what staff call unbearable conditions for both patients and workers. This is according to findings by the trade union the Public Servants Association (PSA).The conditions at the clinic became public on Thursday (05/12) after the staff, nurses and administration personnel stopped working, leaving scores of patients unattended to. There has been no power in Section D of the clinic for three days and no water since September. Rantsipi Touto, the PSA’s provincial shop steward for health and social development, said the staff lamented the conditions were equally as risky to them as to the patients, who visit the clinic hoping to get professional medical assistance. After the staff stopped working, attention was given to their concerns, with the power being reconnected on 5 December. “The staff was unable to perfom full medical consultations. Blood pressure monitor machines were not functioning due to the non-supply of power and fridges in the dispensary section were off,” said Touto. “There was no water to wash their hands, contradicting the practice that healthcare providers should clean their hands before and after every patient contact to protect themselves, as well as their patients, from infections.” He pointed out that the conditions at the clinic were not aligned with the Batho Pele principles.Power was disconnected on 4 December, upon the delivery of a notice indicating the clinic’s electricity bill was in arrears. “Power at the Bophelong Clinic was indeed switched off due to an overdue electricity bill,” said Lele Mamatu, Centlec spokesperson. “Arrangements were made with Centlec for the payment of the account. “The clinic forms part of the Department of Public Works’ bigger account, which was not paid.”The area manager was aware of the water issue,Express has learnt. For the duration of the water cut, staff members were switching between their duty to attend to patients and fetching water with containers, adding to their workload. What was strange to everyone at the clinic, is that adjacent households had no water problems. The water issue was resolved after a community member reportedly volunteered to repair a blocked pipe that prevented flow and thereafter installed a new tap. At the time of going to print, the Mangaung Metro had not responded to inquiry.