Patients arrived at the hospital on Wednesday morning and were still waiting in the queue on Thursday morning.
The unions all indicated that there was a severe shortage of staff at provincial health facilities, where existing employees were overworked and under-resourced.
National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) provincial chairperson Jacques Cupido believed that it is a disgrace that patients had to sleep on the floor.
“People with life-threatening conditions could die waiting for medical help. Long queues are a daily occurrence. I am not sure when these patients were eventually assisted. Some patients travel far distances from far-lying areas such as Springbok and Upington, only to wait for hours before they receive medical treatment. Some patients have to wait for two days before they are assisted because the doctor is not there on the day of their scheduled appointment, when they haven’t even made accommodation arrangements.”
Cupido added that staff were demoralised and overworked.
“We have handed over several memorandums to the Department of Health to address these issues and have not received any response. It is poor planning and management when patients have to wait for days in long queues.”
Nehawu branch secretary Moleme Moleme indicated that the patients had to bring their own blankets or towels along to lie on the ground.
Paul Glass from the Health and Other Services Personnel Trade Union of South Africa (Hospersa) added that their members employed in the health sector were overworked and were taking strain.
“Vacant funded posts that were never filled as well as those that were abolished are impacting negatively on service delivery,” Glass pointed out.
Vincent Phuroe from the Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (Denosa) also highlighted the staffing challenges at Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe Hospital.
The spokesperson for the MEC for Health, Lebogang Majaha, said that MEC Fufe Makatong was “quite disturbed” by reports citing and depicting queues of patients sleeping overnight on the floor at casualties at Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe Hospital.
“The MEC is busy engaging administratively and further details of restructuring will be communicated on Friday (today) at the Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe Hospital during a planned media briefing.”
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