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Cape Town - The public has a role to play in ensuring public healthcare facilities are safe, Western Cape health MEC Theuns Botha said on Wednesday.
“There's a co-responsibility. It's not only government that can solve it, it's not only labour that can solve it,” Botha told reporters and workers at Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town.
“What are people doing in their own communities to ensure it's safe for an ambulance to come pick someone up who has a desperate need to go to an institution?”
Botha said he found it strange and unacceptable that it was necessary to be concerned about the safety of doctors and nurses helping the poor and needy.
“These things are beyond my imagination. I do not understand a society where this is the case. Unfortunately, that is reality and we've got to deal with it.”
He was speaking at the launch of a campaign by provincial nurses and doctors to improve their working environment.
The Democratic Nursing Organisation of SA (Denosa) and SA Medical Association (Sama) detailed their plan for a positive practice environment, following similar launches in the Northern Cape, Eastern Cape, and Limpopo.
The campaign, set to run over the next two years, would address issues such as worker safety and payment, equipment, supplies, and education.
Denosa president Dorothy Matebeni called on nurses and doctors to “adopt” a medical facility with issues and bring these to the attention of the health department.
She said the first phase of the campaign would focus on the safety and payment of workers.
Botha assured workers that safety and security was a focus.
“We spend over R100 million in the department of health in the Western Cape on security. I'm certainly not so sure whether we get the service we pay for and whether that service is up to standard,” he said.
The safety and security of government property had been moved to the Western Cape department of community safety.
The community safety department had appointed international consultancy firm Arup to conduct an audit of security at all provincial facilities.
The end goal was to build new facilities with more secure designs, revisit security contracts, and train officials to exercise oversight over procured services.
Botha gave his support to the positive environment campaign.
“I want to invite and commit that we as the department will be accessible and that we will take part in this process and you can approach us.”
Sama vice chairman Dr Mark Sonderup said the campaign would see a more collaborative approach.
He said there had been a historically antagonistic relationship between government and healthcare workers.
“If you're going to wait for government to deliver, you're going to wait a long time... it's time for healthcare workers to roll up their sleeves and see what we can do,” he said.