hospital staff to strike

MORE than 800 health workers, including nurses, doctors and support staff at Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital are threatening to go on strike.

They are demanding that corrupt "unfair appointments" of people, without posts being advertised, be rooted out.

KwaZulu-Natal Nehawu chairperson Zola Saphetha alleges there is a high level of corruption at the hospital when it comes to senior appointments.

The already short-staffed hospital will be dealt another blow tomorrow when more than 300 retired nurses, fondly known as Penguins, leave the hospital when their contracts expire.

"Posts have not been filled properly. We have cases of people who have been appointed to positions without even having been interviewed," Saphetha said.

"We know the human resources department is the most corrupt.

"Last week we handed a memorandum to the CEO of the hospital, asking that these concerns be addressed."

In 2006 the KwaZulu-Natal department of health launched a bold plan to utilise the skills and experience of retired nurses.

"We have put a stop to the recruitment of any new people at the hospital until we get to the root of the corruption," Saphetha said.

"A crisis is definitely looming if management does not sort out this problem.

"We are aware that the Penguins are leaving on Wednesday and it will add to the already short-staffed situation.

"Our aim is to expose the corruption and if it means rendering that hospital ungovernable, so be it."

But provincial department of health spokesperson,Chris Maxon says there is nothing to be worried about.

"Corruption has been alleged but no evidence has been brought forward to substantiate such allegations. We intend to fill the vacant posts and that process cannot be held back.

"We want to root out corruption but to do so we need facts," Maxon said.