Gauteng hospital takes action against striking staff who left patients stranded
Services at Sterkfontein hospital in Krugersdorp, west of Johannesburg, have returned to normal following an illegal strike by staff members who left patients stranded on Tuesday.
Patients were unable to take their medication, bath or have their breakfast on time as a result of the strike, said health department spokesperson Kwara Kekana.
“The illegal strike disrupted hospital services and ignored the current lockdown rules, which prohibit public gatherings. The service disruption affected various areas of the facility, including the usual multidisciplinary team’s morning visits to patients, which could not be undertaken as employees were locked outside the facility,” she said.
It was only after police intervention that the crowds dispersed and other hospital staff could gain access to blocked entry points.
Kekana said the strike was illegal because no official notice had been issued to hospital management of the workers' intention to embark on industrial action, as per labour law.
“In addition to that, the union did not raise any issues with hospital management prior to the strike,” she said.
Kekana said management had since opened a case against those involved - for locking the gate and denying access to staff to serve patients, and for damage to property after a doctor’s car was damaged.
“We can confirm that hospital services are back to normal and patients are receiving care as scheduled,” she said.
“Meanwhile, the department can confirm that one staff member at the Sterkfontein hospital had tested positive. All 27 close contacts, including staff and eight patients, were tested. The results came back negative, with the results of three people still pending.”
Kekana said the process of testing all staff at the facility commenced two weeks ago. She confirmed that the hospital and the province had adequate personal protective equipment (PPE), adding that the province continued to procure PPE regularly to ensure that health-care workers continue to render essential services to patients.
The department has since called on all its employees to use various multilateral platforms to raise issues, instead of embarking on illegal strikes that put patients' lives at risk.