Johannesburg - The Health and Allied Workers Indaba Trade Union (Haitu) and the Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (Denosa) have condemned the recent stabbing incident at Helen Joseph Hospital, which resulted in serious injuries to a nurse on duty.
Criminals pretending to be the escorts of an injured patient stormed into the hospital and attacked nursing staff on Sunday. A male nurse was stabbed in the abdomen by two men escorting a wounded patient.
On Wednesday, Haitu issued a statement asserting that the incident was the fault of the Gauteng department of health.
The male nurse stabbing victim is reported to have been on a smoke break when he was attacked by the criminals.
This is not the first such incident at a Gauteng hospital. Last year, a patient attacked a doctor at the Lilian Ngoyi healthcare facility in Soweto.
Haitu said that it hoped the culprits would be found and arrested with speed as there was video footage which should lead to the arrest. Failure to do so would be akin to exposing healthcare workers and patients to harm, it added.
“The assailants were caught on CCTV footage, and we hope that this information will help the SAPS find them and arrest them quickly. Haitu visited the hospital, and we have engaged workers there regarding the horrific incident. There is a lot of fear and uncertainty because of the high crime rate and also because these assailants have not been arrested yet. There is fear they may return and attack more people,” the union said in a statement.
The unions have called for the department to increase and intensify its security across all healthcare facilities across the province.
"We are repeating our demand that the Gauteng Provincial Health Department take the safety and security at our hospitals seriously. Last year in April, Haitu (formerly known as YNITU) marched to the offices of the Gauteng department of health and handed over a memorandum of demands," Haitu said.
Denosa said it was calling on members of the community to help law enforcement agencies with information and details about the incident to help towards the apprehension of those involved.
"Communities need to realise that an attack on healthcare workers is an attack on the healthcare system, and the people who will always suffer if this goes unabated are the same community members," Denosa said.
The department of health said it condemned the incident, with health MEC Nomantu Nkomo-Ralehoko saying it did not take kindly to hooliganism across its facilities in the province.
"We condemn this act of hooliganism and criminality in the strongest possible terms. and implore the police to track down the attackers as the incident was captured on CCTV cameras," the MEC said.