WE ARE shocked with disbelief that Provincial Department of Health spokesman Sizwe Kupelo can utter such criticism ("Clinic nurses on go-slow due to shortages," Herald, January 10) of staff at the New Brighton Clinic with no regard for them and putting them at risk further because of the department's negligence in being able to staff the clinics, provide adequate working equipment and enough medicines for our black communities.
We are patients at the New Brighton Clinic in Ward 14 and are astounded at these accusations.
We have observed the nurses and staff being very professional and caring, working long hours with no breaks to ensure patients are attended to – even during the time there were no doctors. Even now they have only one doctor who is expected to deal with between 50 and 100 patients a day.
On Thursday, the staff at the clinic were waiting for the provincial Department of Health to come and address their problems, but management appear to be dismissing their demands as "allegations".
Since the provincialisation of primary health care, the service has deteriorated because of the shortage of staff and no provision of essential resources.
The trade unions, staff, and ourselves in Azapo have tried to draw attention to management and the politicians, but still the provincial Department of Health creates even worse conditions.
For example, staff have not received their benefits which they received under the municipality; secondly management has taken away critical additional staff needed to provide adequate health care for the hundreds of people who pass through the clinic doors, impacting negatively on black communities.
If the New Brighton Clinic, which is considered one of the better clinics, is like this, it is clear the other clinics in the black townships must be far worse.
When sitting in long queues to see a sister, doctor or pharmacist, one constantly hears a stream of accusations directed at the nurses.
They are being blamed for the situation, which we believe has been created by the mismanagement of resources by the provincial Department of Health.
Why is it difficult for them to replace staff when positions have become vacant?
Where is this money going?
Azapo supports the New Brighton Clinic staff in their demands for:
- Regular supply of medicines;
- Adequate working equipment;
- Higher hygiene standards; and
- Effective security systems to heighten safety to enable the staff to provide the best health care service for our black communities in a safer environment. Why should we, the black members of the community, have to demand what is our right; and why should nurses, who are trying to provide an essential service be put in a compromised situation by this apparent negligence?
The provincial Department of Health should be ashamed of their misrepresentation of the truth as we experience it daily, exposing the nurses and the sole doctor to unwarranted abuse by patients who do not know this truth.
Yesterday a doctor from Malawi and a dentist were put at risk because of this crisis.
Instead of being grateful to them for their willingness to serve the black communities, patients hurled abuse at them.
The provincial Department of Health is meant to protect its staff and praise them for working under such bad conditions! Not attacking them.
The provincial Department of Health must act urgently before we have a cascade of deaths of patients and staff!
Nontobeko Yawa, deputy- secretary general, Azapo