Probe at KZN hospital averts crippling strike

THE KwaZulu-Natal department of Health has appointed a team of investigators to probe allegations of corruption at one of the country's biggest hospitals, Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central.

Last week the hospital was on the brink of a strike that threatened to cripple services that would have affected about 850 patients. Staff, including doctors, threatened to strike amid allegations of the corrupt recruitment and appointment of personnel.

Yesterday Nehawu spokesperson Zola Saphetha said the union had temporarily suspended the strike at the hospital. The union, which represents more than 800 health workers including nurses, doctors and support staff at the hospital, said corruption at the institution was rife.

KwaZulu-Natal department of health's spokesperson, Chris Maxon, said a three-member investigative team from their human resources department would probe Nehawu's allegations of "unfair appointment of people without posts being advertised. The aim of the team is to establish the veracity of the claims by Nehawu. Where these are found to be true, we will recommend steps to be taken to ensure that the situation is corrected".

Saphetha had last week said: "We have put a stop to the recruitment of any new staff at the hospital until we get to the root of the corruption. A crisis is definitely looming if management does not sort out this problem. Our aim is to expose the corruption and if it means rendering the hospital ungovernable, so be it."

The services of nearly 300 retired nurses (commonly referred to as Penguins) employed at the hospital have also been retained. Their contracts were to have ended last Wednesday but due to the threatened strike, management opted to retain their services, according to Maxon.