Picture: Sandile Ndlovu/African News Agency (ANA)

Durban - While nurses and student nurses live in appalling conditions at the Addington Hospital nurses’ residence, student doctors returning from Cuba are in line for “special treatment”, with three of the home’s 15 floors being renovated and reserved for them. 

Mandla Shabangu, the Democratic Nursing Organisation of SA (Denosa) provincial secretary, said: “What makes these doctors more special than the rest of the staff? Our members have been exposed to these appalling conditions for some time. They have no hot water, taps are broken, toilets are blocked and lifts are broken… (They are) living in squalor,” Shabangu said. 

He said the lack of security was another concern, with a nurse being shot and killed in her room last year.

“These nurses pay R950 per month for a single room and R450 per person sharing. The rooms are small and they cook in the same room. When we raised the issue of living conditions in these facilities around the province, the department had said it had no budget for renovations. They said the money for the renovations at Addington was from the UKZN School of Medicine,” he said.

It is not clear how much was made available for the renovations.

Shabangu said they would present all their issues of concern at the Provincial Chamber next week.

The chamber is comprised of all principals in the department and the unions.

Shabangu said he visited the facility on Thursday and noted that renovations on one floor were complete and two more floors were marked for renovation.

Last year the Daily News reported on a strike by nurses and student nurses over the living conditions at the facility.

Asked for comment on the living conditions at the facility, and about the allegation that a portion was under renovation and reserved for student doctors, the department said: “The department is indeed concerned by the state of certain sections of the nurses’ residence at Addington Hospital. 
“When delivering her maiden speech on July 30, Health MEC Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu indicated there were a number of upgrades and maintenance projects being conducted at Addington Hospital, for which the department has allocated R17.5 million. Among them is a project for repairs and renovations to Addington nurses’ residence. The project is estimated to commence on August 26.” 

Denosa rubbished the comment, saying it was intended to silence the DA after it had complained in the legislature about the living conditions. 

The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) said it would visit the facility today and called for Simelane-Zulu’s urgent intervention.
“These doctors should not be given special treatment because all workers in the healthcare sector are there to provide a service,” Nehawu Durban region secretary Ayanda Zulu said.

Daily News