#UnrestSA: National hospital group calls on cops, army to help protect staff, food, oxygen supplies

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  • The National Hospital Network appealed to the police and SANDF to secure its hospitals.
  • They have requested escorts for their food and oxygen supplies.
  • The unrest has also created staff shortages, with nurses and support staff unable to get to work.

The National Hospital Network (NHN) has appealed for help from the police and the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) in securing the safety of staff and the protection of its food, oxygen and communications networks.

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NHN spokesperson Neville Nair said the unrest, combined with the Covid-19 pandemic, was reaching crisis proportions, leaving hospitals in dire straits.

The network, which represents 241 hospitals, 74 of which provide acute services, is reeling in the aftermath of the unrest and looting, in KwaZulu-Natal in particular.

Nair said many of the network's hospitals are in areas vulnerable to unrest and violence.

The police ministry said on Tuesday that 72 people had died during the unrest, which coincided with the incarceration of former president Jacob Zuma on a contempt of court matter.

Nair said some staff could not get to work, and those who could not go home safely after their shifts had asked to sleep at work.

Food, medical supplies compromised

Some doctors had also battled to get to work. Vital oncology and dialysis services were also badly impacted.

Food was running out at some hospitals, and pharmaceutical and oxygen supplies were compromised, as these stocks were supplied via Durban.

"One of our hospitals have reported that they are unable to discharge patients as there is no transport to get them home," said Nair.

"Our Melomed Richards Bay Hospital has lost communications capabilities due to their fibre lines being destroyed.

"The situation on the ground is simply untenable, the NHN thus calls upon the government:

  • To provide on-site security to hospitals – both public and private.
  • To provide transportation escorts by SAPS/SANDF for oxygen and other medical supplies, including food, clean linen and all other essential supplies.
  • To secure hospital communications and IT systems."

Nair said the NHN was concerned about the slow pace of getting the situation under control, and appealed to the government for urgent intervention.

"The collateral damage is simply unimaginable."

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