Stabbed in hospital

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ST p5main Psychi Bara

Ihsaan Haffejee

UNPREDICTABLE: The psychiatric ward at Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital, where a patient stabbed six people. Picture: Ihsaan Haffejee

Noni Mokati

Security at Bara has come under scrutiny following two stabbings at the hospital in just under a week.

Now an explanation is sought as to why the services of Mabotwane Security to Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital have not been terminated despite the contract having expired in April last year.

And medics have again expressed outrage about working in dangerous circumstances.

l On Thursday night, a nurse from Bara’s St Johns Eye hospital was stabbed 10 times allegedly by her boyfriend.

It is believed the nurse’s lover arrived in a hospital corridor where the nurse was attacked, and fled, while Mabotwane security personnel were changing shifts. The wounded nurse has since been transferred to another hospital and is in a stable condition.

l Last Saturday, a mentally ill patient allegedly stabbed several other patients and a intern doctor with a pair of scissors he had stolen from a hospital trolley.

None of the people attacked was fatally wounded and a case of assault has been opened. The man is being held at the Sterkfontein Psychiatric Hospital.

However, last night the SA Medical Association (Sama) said the ineffective security measures in hospitals were of deep concern.

“I think these two incidents are merely (cases) in point… when looking at security in hospitals we have a litany of examples of breaches.

“Over the last year we’ve lost two of our colleagues (at other hospitals in the province). These are serious events.

“I need to say that as doctors we understand that crime in SA is a serious challenge,” acting chairman Dr Mark Sonderup said.

“But I think we believe and certainly demand that it’s not unreasonable for us to be safe when in our workplace.”

Sonderup said the organisation had raised its concerns at provincial and national levels, including handing over extensive memorandums to Parliament and the Presidency.

“There has just been nothing (in response). All that has happened is more attacks have occurred. We are deeply disappointed in the non-response from the government.

“This is not a public sector issue only. It affects doctors, nurses, other medical staff and patients in the private sector as well.”

The security contract to Mabotwane came to an end last year, but instead of being replaced the company continues to provide protection at a cost of R60 million a year.

In August, a written reply by Gauteng Health MEC Ntombi Mekgwe to DA health spokesman Jack Bloom indicated that Mabotwane was appointed in May 2008.

The intention was that its contract would expire in April last year. Mekgwe said at the time her department’s acquisition council had extended it indefinitely.

Bloom yesterday said the contract should have never been extended.

“It’s irregular to keep extending it. I am suspicious about this contract. It looks like we grossly overpaid in the first contract because when it was extended the contract became much cheaper,” he said.

It was time Mabotwane was fired and all the other security contracts were reconsidered as there were problems at most hospitals.

Bloom said he was also concerned about remarks made by Bara CEO Johanna More after the first attack.

More defended the security at the hospital saying the stabbing of the doctor was not a security issue because the man who attacked the doctor was a patient and it was likely that he walked into the hospital or ward with a weapon.

Meanwhile, Captain Phephi Matlou-Mtetho said the police were investigating the second Bara stabbing incident and that a case of attempted murder had been opened against the nurse’s boyfriend.

The department of health hospital and security management would meet to discuss measures to further tighten security at the facility.

MEC Mekgwe said the attack on health professionals would not be tolerated and that the department took such violent actions seriously.

In 2007 a trainee doctor was raped.


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