Delmas hospital workers down tools – Premier must intervene

James Masango MPL

Provincial Chief Whip of the Official Opposition

Primary health care in Mpumalanga has suffered yet another blow as staff at the Bernice Samuel hospital in Delmas downed tools over the alleged non-payment of overtime. Premier David Mabuza must immediately intervene and return the situation to normal as soon as possible, before this hospital comes to a complete standstill.

The unnecessary and uncalled for strike action has forced hospital management to only admit and treat emergency cases, while all general admissions, outpatients and VCT patients have been shown away.

It is unthinkable that the Department of Health fails to pay already overworked staff their overtime while it slashes 25 000 funded posts from its organogram as a so-called cost saving exercise. This while the department is tasked to provide health care to more than three million of Mpumalanga’s citizens, at a vacancy rate of over 50%.

It is absolutely critical that this hospital return to normal operations as soon as possible, and premier Mabuza has to shoulder responsibility for the non-payment of overtime and resolve the issue. Following his visit to this and other hospitals a few weeks ago, he urged staff to write down and send him all their concerns and that he would deal with it, effectively side-lining health MEC Dr Clifford Mkasi.

The premier now has the perfect opportunity to practice his skill in crisis-management and by so doing, proving to health care workers across the province that he truly cares about their needs, and does not simply use them as cannon fodder for his political battles.

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