OPPOSITION parties in KwaZulu-Natal have called for the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) to investigate the alleged violation of human rights at Addington Hospital. Picture: Motshwari Mofokeng/African News Agency (ANA)
OPPOSITION parties in KwaZulu-Natal have called for the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) to investigate the alleged violation of human rights at Addington Hospital. Picture: Motshwari Mofokeng/African News Agency (ANA)

Lives put at risk because of Addington Hospital’s faulty lifts

By Sakhiseni Nxumalo Time of article published Nov 6, 2020

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Durban - OPPOSITION parties in KwaZulu-Natal have called for the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) to investigate the alleged violation of human rights at Addington Hospital.

This is after the hospital management failed to repair lifts that keep breaking down, thus putting the lives of employees, patients and visitors at risk.

On Wednesday, disgruntled staff downed tools, demanding management urgently resolve the issue.

During the strike a video, which The Mercury has seen, was circulated on social media showing a patient struggling to walk down the steps.

In the video, a security guard together with another patient try to assist an elderly man in a wheelchair, while other workers stand and watch.

The workers are heard in the video shouting that “if the lifts were working, patents would not be sliding on the steps”.

DA spokesperson on health Dr Rishigen Viranna said the party had written to the SAHRC and would be submitting the video as part of its evidence.

Viranna described the incident as “inhumane treatment”, saying the health department should take full responsibility.

“It is everyone’s right to have access to health care when needed. The department has violated the right of that patient and many other patients who have suffered over the years,” he said.

Viranna said workers’ frustration had reached boiling point.

“They have to travel up and down with wheelchairs, beds, food and also carry patients up the stairs. That is not fair and the department should get a permanent solution to this issue,” said Viranna.

The IFP’s Ncamisile Nkwanyana said she had witnessed an elderly sick woman going up the stairs using a walking stick.

“The hospital is abusing people, both staff and patients. Addington has been in this situation for years and yet the department fails to permanently resolve it.

“One time the lift broke while people were inside, they were lucky to escape.

“Sooner or later, life will be lost and the department will face serious claims, and they will pay. They must also stop employing incompetent companies to fix the lifts,” she said.

In September this year during an online session of Parliament’s portfolio committee on co-operative governance and traditional affairs, MEC Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu blamed the salt air from the ocean for the faulty lifts.

A retired nurse, who asked not to be named, said the lifts challenge in the hospital was more than 10 years old. She said that before 1994, the hospital had fewer patients and everything operated smoothly.

She said the problem started when the hospital received an influx of patients, which put more pressure on its infrastructure, and the department failed to adjust to the change.

“The department failed to continually do maintenance of the lifts. We used to struggle to assist patients.

“The patients’ families would also fight with us and demand that we transport them using the steps,” she said.

“Working in that hospital is draining for both workers and patients. This is not a new thing, it started more than 10 years ago and when I retired two years ago, it was worse,” she added.

Department spokesperson Ntokozo Maphisa said they noted with concern the unauthorised filming and distribution of video footage depicting patients at the hospital.

“This is most unfortunate, as the matters raised are being attended to, and also because the dissemination of such footage, without the consent of those featured in it, undermines and compromises patients’ inalienable right to privacy and dignity,” said Maphisa.

Advocate Lloyd Lotz of the SA Human Rights Commission KwaZuluconfirmed that the commission had received a complaint relating to allegations of malfunctioning lifts at Addington Hospital.

“The said complaint will be registered, assessed and investigated in terms of the commission’s complaints handling procedures,” said Lotz.

The Mercury

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