HUNDREDS of patients were turned away from Port Elizabeth’s New Brighton clinic yesterday as frustrated nurses said they refused to work until Bhisho sorted out severe staff and medicine shortages.
Nurses said there were only six of them and each was seeing about 100 patients a day, as opposed to the norm of one nurse per 30 patients.
They said the clinic was hamstrung by a shortage of crucial drugs like ARVs.
Yesterday the clinic was packed to capacity and all patients, including those who needed life-saving ARV and TB drugs, were turned away.
The clinic is one of 42 that were previously managed by the Nelson Mandela Bay municipality and last year was placed under the provincial health department.
Sister Winky Mngqibisa said the clinic had 17 consulting rooms and only six nurses — half the number it had a year ago.
She said it was impossible to get through the crowds of people that came through daily.
“A person will threaten you just because you want to go to tea. They will even hold you hostage… a dentist was held hostage here yesterday, because patients didn’t want him to leave.
“He had to sneak out the back door.”
Speaking on behalf of the nurses, Mngqibisa said each of the six nurses had to perform seven services such as attending to patients with HIV-AIDS, TB, diabetes as well as those who needed help with family planning.
“For one service, you should have at least three nurses.”
Mngqibisa said that she understood the frustrations of the patients, especially the ones who need regular treatment.
“In the clinic, they sit with fear that they will not be seen. They get frustrated and we are the victims.”
She said that they had contacted and written to the district and department several times and they have had no feedback.
“It’s as if they don’t care.”
A clinic staff member who did not want to be named said they had two professional nurses who retired on 31 December.
“On Monday, we had four professional nurses contracted by the department from an agency laid off because the department could not afford them.”
“The national norm is one nurse per every 3,000 population, so for the 85,000 residents we serve, there should be about 28 nurses.”
“We have an influx of patients coming in and the the drug shortages, which started in November last year, are exacerbating the situation.
“We have just had to recently borrow ARV treatment from another clinic.”
Community clinic committee member, Mkrotso Fololo said they had tried to talk to the district office but received no feedback.
“We have been talking to the directors at the district office, they don’t want to come down to observe the situation.
Provincial health department spokesperson Sizwe Kupelo condemned the go slow by the nurses.
He said their behaviour was putting people’s health in jeopardy.
“If these allegations are true, these people don’t deserve to be in this department.
“You cant hold patients at ransom… these people are mischievous, they don’t want to work.
“Drugs are available we spend a billion rand on drugs. The problem is requisition.”
Kupelo said they had managers and a district office that were paid to manage the clinics.
“If there are problems inherited from the municipality, we need innovation on the part of the managers.”
He added that if the staff members had contacted the department about their concerns, they should provide evidence.
The PE Herald
Really people, if you can look closely and listen and observe, Eastern Cape is going down, that place is like a curse, nothing works in that province, Schools are crap, hospitals are crap, police service is crap, service delivery is crap, there is high moral decay, high tenage pregnancy, with the highest abortion, liquor consumption is high, there are no jobs, a lot of its people have runned to cpt for greener pastures, and am not lying with this one, you should go to cape town in december and visit the townships, like your khayelitshas and the others, you would think that people there have been evacuated, it gets so quiet that it starts to feel uncomfortable, why???? most of its residents are from eastern cape and in december they all go home, just to give a clue, every 2 in five black people you come accross in cpt they are from the eastern cape and they will be leaving in december to their home land, EC.