Protesters force nurses and doctors out of N West hospital


Johannesburg, 01 January 2016 - It was a slightly quieter New Years Eve for doctors and nurses at the Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital in Johannesburg. The trauma unit handled fewer injuries and fatalities than expected.?

MAHIKENG - Protesters forced doctors and nurses out of the Klerksdorp Tshepong and the Potchefstroom Hospitals on Thursday, the North West Health Department said.

Spokesperson Tebogo Lekgethwane unprecedented protests had been experienced at the health facilities in the past two weeks.

"It is particularly at Klerksdorp Tshepong Hospital Complex that there are unfortunate incidents of protesters forcefully removing nurses and doctors from the wards and preventing others, including community members, from accessing the facility," he said.

READ: Hospersa slams Mahumapelo for North West health crisis

On 8 and 9 May there were "escalated acts of intimidation and acts of forced removal of patients and health professionals from the hospital," he said.

This followed the arrest of protesters after the hospital opened a case of intimidation with the local police station.

Members of the National Education Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) working at the department have been on strike since 19 February.

Medical personnel from the SA National Defence Force have been deployed to the province after clinics and hospitals were forced to close due to the strike

Lekgethwane said the Potchefstroom Hospital had been less affected by the protest there.

"Patients are still being attended to and admissions of new patients continues. This, however, continues in a very unpleasant environment where protests at the gates of the hospital are prevalent."

The Klerksdorp Tshepong Hospital Complex is a referral hospital in North West.

"Patients from regional hospitals are referred to Klerksdorp to receive tertiary health services. As a result of the ongoing protests, the hospital was forced to release patients back to regional hospitals for management at that level until the situation is normalised. Stable patients have been assessed by doctors and released. Only critical patients remain," said Lekgethwane.

The hospitals operated with few staff as nurses and doctors feared coming to work.

Lekgethwane said negotiations to end the strike continued.

"Since the department was put under Section 100 b (1), there is optimism about a speedy resolution. Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi has already had a number of meetings with Nehawu in an attempt to find a solution to the impasse."

He said the administrator of the department would meet with provincial office employees on Friday as part of efforts to end the protest action.

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