DA calls on MEC to increase safety at KZN health facilities or face exodus of professional staff

Issued by Dr Rishigen Viranna, MPL – DA KZN Spokesperson on Health
05 Nov 2019 in Press Statements

The Democratic Alliance (DA) calls on KwaZulu-Natal’s Health MEC, Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu to urgently increase security measures at the province’s health facilities or face an exodus of healthcare professionals and a further decline in patient services.

The call comes after yet another incident of shocking violence after a nurse was allegedly raped in a consulting room at the Nkonjeni Hospital in Mahlabathini on Sunday.

This after an unknown individual arrived at the hospital during the late afternoon pretending to seek medical assistance. By the time the police arrived, the suspect had already fled.

The DA stands with the woman concerned. We sincerely hope that the SAPS will do everything in their power to apprehend the suspect.

The issue of violence within KZN’s health facilities is of grave concern to the DA. Last month, I wrote to KZN Health MEC, Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu and her HOD Sandile Tshabalala to request that the issue of the safety of healthcare workers be prioritized after an incident at KwaMsane Clinic in northern KZN during which two nurses were allegedly assaulted.

Despite the seriousness of the situation, we are yet to receive any response either from the MEC or her HOD and the situation remains unchanged.

The question is – why is nothing being done? And how can the MEC now express her shock and concern at this latest incident when she herself has the power to effect the change that is needed?

This was not the first time that the DA has highlighted this scourge. We have made numerous calls in the past to former MEC Dhlomo and his Department for the implementation of greater security measures at both hospitals and clinics.

We have also called for increased security measures for those who work within Emergency Medical Services (EMS) following incidents of ambulances being hi-jacked and paramedics being victims of violence too.

Where the DA governs in the Western Cape, there is a coordinated security plan for all health facilities to prevent such attacks. This includes a liaison between the facility, SAPS, security companies and the surrounding community. To begin with here in KZN, the MEC and her Department must;

  • Ensure that there are sufficient security personnel at entrances to health facilities so that proper searches for concealed weapons can take place and
  • Ensure that such security officers are able to prevent anyone from escaping in the event of a crime and that they have the power to make a citizen’s arrest.

The time has come for KZN’s political and community leaders to take a stand and to call for a ‘whole of society’ approach to deal with such incidents which are ultimately a manifestation of the violence within our society.

Our hospitals must be places of healing and care – not places where healthcare workers and patients run the risk of being robbed, assaulted and even raped.