North West protesters chase doctors, nurses out of hospital

2018-05-02 18:40
(File, Duncan Alfreds, News24)

(File, Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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A doctor at Tshepong Hospital in Klerksdorp in the North West, says he was infuriated after protesters stormed the hospital on Wednesday morning and forced staff out.

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

Last week, President Cyril Ramaphosa decided to place the North West health department under the administration of the national government, in the wake of the protests. He appointed a team, under the leadership of Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, to get to the bottom of the crisis, which has also been exacerbated by protests calling for the removal of North West Premier Supra Mahumapelo.

Wits professor and internal medicine specialist Ebrahim Variava, who had been trying to assist patients at Tshepong Hospital since the protests started, said doctors and hospital staff "faced some major challenges".

"Today, it affected services at the hospitals as the strikers got into the hospital. There was no physical violence, but they got rid of the nurses, they got rid of the doctors, and even chased staff out of the operating theatres," he said.

Variava said hospital management had engaged with the South African Police Service about the way forward and how to ensure that operations continued.

"Hospital management and the police are meeting and looking at how we can go forward. Hopefully this will allow the hospital to function.

"We want society and all the people to say, 'we need to act on this'. This cannot be allowed to happen," he said.

Variava said the biggest concern was prioritising care for chronic patients.

North West police spokesperson Brigadier Sabata Mokgwabone said he would be able to comment on an investigation into the matter once hospital management had opened a case.

Mokgwabone said some protesters had managed to get into hospital by pretending to be reporting for duty.

"They then allegedly disrupted services," he said.

Read more on:    mahikeng  |  health  |  protests

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