It is alleged that the nurse, who has worked at five other hospitals in the province, may have committed the same crime at the other institutions.
The Health Department has confirmed it has launched an investigation into the matter.
Spokesperson Noluthando Nkosi said the hospital’s management was in the process of reporting the matter to the SA Nursing Council following the nurse’s resignation from the hospital on August22.
“The department is concerned by these allegations and views them in an extremely serious light. Although the nurse implicated in this matter has resigned, the hospital management will be reporting this matter to the SA Nursing Council for further investigation,” she said.
The Daily News received complaints from concerned members of staff at Eshowe hospital, who feared that the matter could be swept under the carpet.
A source at the hospital said the management had discovered earlier this year that an elderly patient had been prescribed Pethadine, but the nurse allegedly dispensed the injection for herself.
“The patient was apparently given the injection as per the doctor’s prescription, but the hospital noticed that the nurse continued to dispense the injection from other wards using the patient’s name. There are allegations that she used the injection herself,” said the source.
The source said it was not yet clear if the nurse had also done this at other hospitals she had worked at.
“There is information that she previously worked at Stanger Hospital. She also worked at KwaMagwaza hospital in Melmoth, at Ngwelezane hospital in Empangeni, Chief Albert Luthuli Hospital in Durban and at a hospital in Nongoma, but it is not clear why she moved from one hospital to another,” said the source.
Another source said staff felt the nurse’s resignation should not have been accepted while the investigation was still under way.
“Stealing patients’ medication is a serious problem because the patients become victims when there is no treatment, and members of the public tend to blame the government,” said the source.
“Often hospital staff, especially nurses, get away with stealing medication, and the rest of the staff are blamed when there is a lack of treatment.”
National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union provincial secretary Ayanda Zulu said they strongly opposed hospital staff stealing patients’ medication.
“We need patriotic public servants who put the needs of patients first and ahead of their personal gains. We need nurses and hospital staff who ensure that treatment gets to the patients.”