NURSES at the Siyakhathala Clinic in Mondlo have had to double up as cleaners for the past few months as the Department of Health has failed to appoint a cleaning company for the clinic.
Service delivery has been impacted rather terribly at this clinic, which caters to the rural community of Mvunyane and surrounding areas, as nurses often have to keep patients waiting for medical care while they ensure that the premises is clean.
“The management promised to bring us the person to whom the cleaning tender had been awarded to but this never happened. Eventually, there was just one lady that randomly arrived and informed us that she was here to clean. We really don’t know what is going on,” said a member of staff who requested to remain anonymous for fear of losing her job.
According to this staff member, nurses had to continue to do what they could to ensure that the clinic was in a clean state as one cleaner is just not enough.
The IFP KZN’s Provincial Spokesperson on Health, Mrs Ncamisile Nkwanyana MPL has demanded that the Department of Health release an actual time frame for when a cleaning company will be appointed.
“The Department’s response in this matter is that the cleaning company will be appointed soon without specifying a clear time frame of whether it would be this week or next month or so. This is yet another public stunt by the department’s spin-doctors aimed at creating confusion as if this matter will be addressed urgently.
The Department is just putting us in a “wait and see” kind of situation on how things will unfold before worrying about the possible impact of this situation on the patients who have to wait for long hours while the nurses are busy cleaning,” said Mrs Nkwanyana.
Mrs Nkwanyana went on to say that the IFP is extremely critical of the manner in which the Department of Health is managing the challenges faced by public hospitals, and of its failure to deliver on the promises that were made by the MEC during his Budget speech when he promised that he would provide better healthcare to all people.
“The plight of the patients must be addressed urgently,” said Mrs Nkwanyana.
The Spokesperson on Health for the Democratic Alliance in KZN, Dr Imran Keeka said that it is explicitly not the job of nursing staff to clean the clinic.
“If they are doing this, it will be purely under duress because of the failures at the provincial department level,” he said.
Dr Keeka said that there is a longstanding moratorium in place, since 2015, that has prevented the employing of staff such as cleaners, artisans, electricians, plumbers and even porters in various facilities and that the filling of clinical posts has also been affected.
“I warned the MEC and his department about this then and continued to do so. It is very clear from this case that the chickens have come home to roost. Oversight visits in other parts of KZN have found pipes and toilets and geysers not fixed for up to three years because of this moratorium. We hear all too often that the request by facilities to employ staff fall on deaf ears,” Dr Keeka continued.
He went on to say that blame must lie at MEC Dr Sibongiseni’s door for the collapse in services and that the responsibility of nurses must be to attend to those who walk through the doors of their clinics seeking better healthcare, not mopping floors and washing windows.
“This is pathetic. I expect that MEC Dhlomo and his department will respond urgently to this matter instead of making excuses. I warned, during this years budget debate, that the finances of the department are in such ruin that no new doctors will be employed. No new nurses will be employed. No new clinics and no new hospitals will be built except for those already on the cards. By implication, it is services such as cleaners and other staff employment that will be hit harder than the essential services,” Dr Keeka said in closing.
Look out in this week’s edition of the Vryheid Herald for an update to this story as well as the official statement received from the Department of Health.