Nurses down tools over shift

2019-05-17 14:58
Nurses push a bed past the entrance to the maternity ward at Northdale Hospital.

Nurses push a bed past the entrance to the maternity ward at Northdale Hospital. (Ian Carbutt)

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Nurses at Msunduzi Clinic in KwaXimba downed tools on Tuesday in protest against working nightshift duty in an “unsafe work environment”.

However, the local ward councillor and the Department of Health on Thursday dismissed their claims, saying there is adequate security at the clinic, but that the nurses did not want to work at night. This was after the clinic introduced a badly needed 24-hour service.

Speaking on behalf of the nurses, Zamani Nhlangulela, spokesperson for the Public Servants Association, said over time the nurses had raised numerous safety concerns to the Health Department.

“There is a lot of violence in the KwaXimba community and it spills into the clinic. There have been incidents where people had barged into the clinic wanting to finish off their injured rivals who were being treated at the clinic.

“There has been an incident where crowds barged into the clinic to shout at and rush nurses while they tried to treat patients who were involved in an accident. Some nurses have been injured while on duty and apparently there was also a security guard who was killed at the clinic years ago.” He did not provide dates.

Nhlangulela said management recently told the employees to work the night shift despite allegedly inadequate security.

On Tuesday, after some nurses failed to report for nightshift duty the previous night, they were refused entry to the premises. As a result their colleagues downed tools in solidarity.

Ward councillor Bongumusa Mkhize said security is adequate at the clinic.

“There are more than enough security guards at the clinic. There are security guards who search everyone at the gate. There are guards stationed at the waiting area and outside the consulting rooms. We have also increased police visibility.”

He added that there was dire need for a 24-hour clinic in the area and management had been trying to get staff to work night shifts since last year but they refused.

“Even working day shift for them is a problem. They usually start working around 11 am and I have had to go to the clinic on several occasions to get them to work. You find them chatting and drinking tea,” he said.

“We have asked the Health Department to deploy new nurses at the clinic who actually want to work. Those who walked out must stay where they are,” said Mkhize.

KZN Health Department spokesperson Ncumisa Mafunda said a lot of effort and resources have been invested to improve security at the clinic.

Concerns were extensively addressed with the SAPS and Community Safety Department.

“There has never been a safety-related incident in the clinic over the past two years,” she said.

Mafunda said the clinic is provided with 24-hour security cover by a private company paid for by the department.

She said the clinic was currently functional with minimal staff.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  nurses strike

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