DA calls on KZN healthcare workers currently outside the system to assist as doctors and nurses buckle under pressure

Issued by Dr Rishigen Viranna, MPL – DA KZN Spokesperson on Health
06 Jan 2021 in Press Statements

As the second wave of Covid-19 continues to place massive strain on KwaZulu-Natal’s healthcare system, the Democratic Alliance (DA) calls on all healthcare workers, currently outside the system, to urgently assist overwhelmed public hospitals.

The appeal comes after a recent KZN Health portfolio committee during which it was revealed by MEC Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu that the province still has a shortage of 85 doctors and 230 nurses. This despite a total of 65 community service doctors and 418 community service nurses having been appointed and all finishing community service doctors and nurses already having been placed in facilities.

The MEC also confirmed that while KZN has sufficient public sector hospital beds, with more field hospital and isolation beds to come online soon, the major limiting factor in rolling out these beds are the lack of human resources, particularly nurses and doctors. According to the briefing, academics have not yet fully determined when KZN will reach its peak as daily case numbers continue to rise.

There are numerous reports of exhausted, fearful and emotionally drained healthcare workers. Many doctors have described the first wave as a bushfire in comparison to the raging inferno of this second wave. Hospital and healthcare workers were able to cope with the first wave cases, however, the number of second wave cases are overwhelming already exhausted healthcare workers. As a result, the major call from healthcare workers is for additional staff resources.

Given these unprecedented circumstances, I have taken up the MEC’s call and volunteered to assist the Department and am currently awaiting hospital placement by the KZN Health Head of Department. I am hopeful that this will urgently occur.

There are many healthcare workers who have left the health sector for various reasons. Most are currently working in other non-clinical industries and have kept their registration with the regulatory authority current. I urge these workers to also take up the call and assist during this pandemic, if they can.

When we qualified, we took an oath to protect and serve patients. Additionally, it is our friends and colleagues from university, internship and community service that are under immense strain.  Let us come together to assist them.