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‘Lack of security driving nurses away’

Published Nov 6, 2012


KwaZulu-Natal -

Nurses are quitting the public health service, citing poor security at state hospitals as one of their reasons, according to the president of the Democratic Nursing Organisation of SA (Denosa), Dorothy Matebeni.

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The problem was also discouraging young people from pursuing a career in nursing, she said yesterday after the organisation’s executive committee meeting at the weekend.

She noted with concern the continuing attacks on health-care workers in the workplace.

She called on the Department of Health to develop a “clear programme” for safety and security in public hospitals.

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“The lack of well-established security facilities is becoming one of the main reasons for practising nurses to leave the public sector for safer health facilities in the private sector or in other government departments, at a time when more nurses are desperately needed,” she said.

Denosa wants law enforcement agencies to work around the clock “to ensure those who cause chaos at hospitals are brought to book”.

The organisation’s provincial secretary, Cassim Lekhoathi, said there had been several worrying incidents in KwaZulu-Natal, where doctors and nurses had been attacked by patients.

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“Doctors and nurses are assaulted while at work by patients who become violent and some even steal the health workers’ belongings,” he said.

Lekhoathi said health authorities needed to prioritise workers’ safety and plough money into the health department to prevent further attacks such as the incident that claimed the life of a Durban doctor last year.

Senzosenkosi Mkhize, 27, of Yellowwood Park, was stabbed and killed, allegedly by a patient with a history of violence against health-care workers, at a hospital in Mpumalanga.

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At the time of Mkhize’s death, doctors and other members of the medical fraternity had raised concerns about security in hospitals.

They marched to the Union Buildings in Pretoria to demand that police be deployed at all hospitals and that private security services be terminated.

An annual memorial lecture was also launched at the weekend to honour Mkhize.

Speaking at the event, Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi said the government was working to address the security issues in hospitals.

“We have been doing a lot of work; we have been spending a lot of money on security,” he said, adding that Mkhize’s death had come as a shock to the medical fraternity.

Motsoaledi said several other concerns had been identified and the government was in the process of addressing them.

At the memorial lecture, the chairman of the SA Medical Association, Dr Mzukisi Grootboom, called on communities to be more appreciative of doctors and the services they provided. - Daily News

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