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Durban - The KwaZulu-Natal provincial government will pronounce on Thursday on the fate of Durban’s embattled McCord Hospital which shut down on Friday after negotiations between its board and the Health Department stalled last month.
Sam Mkhwanazi, spokesman for the provincial MEC for health, Sibongiseni Dhlomo, said a meeting was held between the McCord board and the provincial government on Wednesday and that an announcement would be made in the legislature.
“There is a special sitting of the legislature. The MEC will take advantage of that to make an announcement,” he said.
While Mkhwanazi declined to give details, the National Education Health and Allied Workers’ Union on Wednesday said they would protest on Friday outside the offices of McCord board chairman, Paulus Zulu, at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. This follows an unsuccessful, urgent court application on Tuesday by the union to force the board to re-open the hospital.
The court ordered that the board must show cause on October 9 as to why it should not be interdicted from dismissing its staff and why it should not be ordered to further consult the unions on retrenchments.
The board has until October 1 to file its response and, should the unions wish to respond, they will have to do so by October 3.
The union’s KZN head, Zola Saphetha, said they were concerned about employees at McCord, some whom were close to pensionable age while others had worked at the hospital, in some cases, for up to 20 years. He said the union was suspicious that the board had plans to privatise the hospital. A move they “would strongly oppose”, he said.
Zulu said the hospital was granted a private licence last year but, owing to the negotiations with the department, they had not submitted a final business plan.
In an interview with The Mercury this week, Zulu said while the R120 million hospital was not bankrupt it did not have funds to operate.
As a Section 21 not-for-profit company and, in accordance with the wishes of the founder of the hospital, Dr James McCord, the hospital premises may not be sold for profit.
The board, however, can donate the buildings to another not-for-profit organisation with “similar values”.