'nursing crisis causing deaths'

AT LEAST 36 deaths have been recorded at the Thabazimbi Hospital in Limpopo in the past five weeks allegedly because of a serious shortage of nursing staff at the institution.

Patients had gone to the institution for treatment but allegedly ended up dying because they could not be attended to.

This emerged after nurses allegedly went on strike demanding the restructuring of their posts so they could be moved to the next level. The nurses also alleged that they were being overworked and underpaid because of a shortage of doctors. They claimed the hospital at present has only three doctors.

There used to be at least 11 doctors but most of them left allegedly because of being treated badly by clinical manager Dingaan Mabena.

Mabena is accused of failing to listen to the doctors' grievances since his appointment in 2008. Three doctors allegedly left at the end of January.

The nurses also said they had asked the provincial department of health and social development to implement the occupation specific dispensation, but without any luck. They have now resorted to strike action, which is affecting patients.

Sowetan has learnt that a number of patients had died, allegedly as a result of not being attended to. A source at the institution revealed yesterday that 36 deaths were recorded from February 26 until last week when the decision to strike was taken.

"We are not going to move because we have had enough of the bad treatment," said a nurse who refused to be named for fear of victimisation.

She said most of the doctors left because of the manner in they were treated by the clinical manager.

The doctors were allegedly prepared to continue working at the hospital but the bad treatment forced them to leave , the nurse said.

The nurses also claimed that Mabena had, at one stage, refused to attend to a critically ill patient, who allegedly died, because he said he was not on call.

Efforts to get comment from Mabena yesterday proved fruitless.

Departmental spokesperson Selby Makgotho could only say they were aware of problems at the institution and were still investigating the allegations.