DURBAN - ‘Patients victimise and abuse us,” said an RK Khan Hospital nurse.
“We work hard and we give the job our all, but we are short-staffed and the hospital is overcrowded given our catchment area (it includes Chatsworth, Kwa-
Ndengezi and KwaDabeka).
“Four nurses have to attend to more than 100 people. It’s draining and the Department of Health doesn’t seem to find a solution to the staffing problem.
“Sometimes we run out of basic nursing material.”
Patients victimised nurses when they felt they were ignored.
“If a nurse pushes a patient in a wheelchair or stretcher to another side of the hospital, there’s one pair of hands less to attend to the rest.
“It’s then that we get insults from the frustrated.
“You can only do so much. Sadly, it is the nurses who have to put up with the abuse.
“I know I have taken an oath, but at least they can give us adequate working material, and we will perform our duties to the best of our abilities.
“To say I am celebrating International Nurses Day would be a lie because people don’t respect us the way nurses used to be respected, due to the appalling conditions we work under.”
King Dinuzulu Hospital
Nursing was a thankless job, said a nurse at King Dinuzulu Hospital in Sydenham.
“The perception that nurses can perform miracles is demotivating at times and when a person is discharged, they don’t even say ‘thank you’.”
Nurses had to deal with almost 200 patients a day and some had to do the work of porters, taking patients to wards, for X-rays and tests, because of shortages.
“Staff in the casualty ward are overworked. We study, but there are no posts once you’ve done studying.
“When people resign, retire or die, they are not replaced.
“The MEC for the Department of Health only faces management, and not the nurses.
“There is not enough money: when do we get a raise?”
Prince Mshiyeni Hospital
The shortage of staff was the biggest issue at Prince Mshiyeni Hospital in uMlazi, one nurse said.
“It’s getting worse. Some posts have not been filled for more than a year.
“Patients who could be treated in clinics come to the hospital, but we can’t tell them that they should be treated in clinics near their homes as it will become big news that Prince Mshiyeni is turning patients away.
“Some equipment which was sent away for repairs is still not back two years later.
“When we ask why there is no money, we are told that the department has to pay out a high amount of money to resolve lawsuits.
“Patients are becoming very cunning now. Due to the influence of lawyers, they are moving from getting money from the Road Accident Fund, to suing hospitals.
“We have to be extra careful in everything we do as patients come to the hospital not because they are sick, but to look for something that they can sue the hospital for.
“This leads to low morale. However, I still wake up every morning and try to make a difference.”
A nurse at Addington Hospital believes that staff shortages and the government’s failure to hire more nurses was adding to the problem of poor service delivery at state-owned hospitals.
With decades of experience behind her, she has never worked anywhere else and had no desire to go into the private sector.
“But state hospitals are losing out because nurses are forced
to work in unsatisfactory conditions. We have to be porters and do other work. We are burnt out. We have to work full shifts without a tea or lunch break. If we get a lunch break, it’s a victory.
“We attend to hundreds of patients every day and are really starting to feel the pressure as we have to cover for the people who leave and whose positions are not filled. The modern generation of nurses are not in it for the love. To them it is just a job.”
* The Democratic Nursing Organisation of SA (Denosa) said they had received hundreds of complaints from nurses in the public health-care system.
They were mostly about staff shortages, lack of security at hospitals and the shortage of medication.