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Johannesburg - Intern doctors at Tembisa Hospital in Ekurhuleni have spent a third night without accommodation, squatting in friends’ rooms and in the hospital’s casualty ward.
This follows an ongoing dispute between the interns and the hospital’s management, after the interns were locked out of their Midrand Village residence in Clayville when the lease expired.
The interns were moved out of the hospital’s residence in September last year to make way for renovations at the C and D blocks of the residences. An inspection had revealed that the accommodation was not up to the Health Professions Council of SA’s (HPCSA) standards.
“Around January or February, we (intern doctors) received letters from Midrand Village to say rent hadn’t been paid and we had to leave. But we stayed on. In April we were locked out by the complex’s management, but the hospital’s management sorted the issue out telephonically and we were let back in,” Dr Jabulani Mbazima, the intern representative, told The Star on Wednesday.
In June, the hospital management extended the lease contract for the eight interns at Midrand Village until September 30.
“On the last day of the contract, we were called in by the complex’s management and were told that a truck was waiting for us outside to relocate us back to this residence,” he said.
They refused to move on the grounds that the renovated residences were not in a good enough state.
Meanwhile, nursing students - who had moved to the intern doctors’ residences because construction around the residences was too noisy - were “forcefully removed” from the residences, according to nursing organisation Denosa, to make way for the intern doctors.
Denosa provincial organiser Sipho Qankase said: “Student nurses were given short notice to vacate their residence by the hospital management and to move to another block of flats.
“Students’ pleas to have the management give them enough, reasonable time to relocate once they had finished with their year-end exams fell on deaf ears. They were forcefully relocated last week, making use of law enforcement agencies, who manhandled students in a bad way.”
On Wednesday, toilets were not working at the renovated residences, washing machines were not connected, water pooled under the male urinals, there were no basins, and walls were damaged. The intern doctors have refused to move into them.
On Tuesday, the SA Medical Association (Sama) called on the HPCSA to withdraw the student doctors at the hospital.
Sama spokeswoman Phophi Ramathuba said: “Depriving student doctors of proper living quarters is an insult not only to them but to the medical profession as a whole.”
She recommended that the interns be relocated to another facility as soon as possible.
Both Mbazima and Qankase said the doctors and nurses were not averse to moving into the residences, but it was the “draconian” leadership style of management, particularly of hospital chief executive Dr Daisy Pekane, that they lamented as well as not being consulted properly in all management decisions.
Gauteng Department of Health spokesman Simon Zwane said they had sent a labour relations team to assess the situation and assist the management and employees in debating the issues.
Additional reporting by Sapa