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READER LETTER | Criticism levelled at nurses at clinics is often unfair

Minister of Health, Dr Joe Phaahla visited the Steve Biko Academic Hospital, in Tshwane.
Minister of Health, Dr Joe Phaahla visited the Steve Biko Academic Hospital, in Tshwane.
Image: Thapelo Morebudi

I worked in Saudi Arabia the whole year in theatre. The only trauma patients we ever treated were motor vehicle accident victims, no gunshot or stab wound victims, which is almost similar to the situation experienced by the Cuban-trained doctors.

We are told the main focus of their training is preventive, promotive and palliative care. This is also known as primary healthcare, which has always been the main focus of all clinics.

Immunisation programmes, family planning, health education on hygiene and nutrition, dispensing chronic medication and monitoring of the elderly and all those that receive chronic medication are the responsibility of clinics.

To alleviate the burden on hospitals and to channel patients to the relevant healthcare facility where they will receive the help they need, patients with common ailments are advised to visit their local clinic first where they will be examined and treated. But if they need further management, the clinic writes a referral letter for the patient to take to the hospital, where they will be seen by the relevant doctor who treats the particular condition. If necessary, they will then be admitted.

Trauma is a different thing altogether. It is usually an emergency, therefore being taken to a clinic first will delay the much-needed help and may result in a death that could have been prevented, blood loss being the major problem. Patients who have been victims of stabbings, shootings and motor vehicle accidents should be rushed to the hospital where there are all kinds of help they might urgently need.

Maternity services are available only in a few selected clinics, and when nurses turn the patient away, advising that they should be taken to the nearest hospital, it is because they have the best interests of the patient at heart as deliveries are fraught with complications. Unfortunately, nurses are mistaken for having a bad attitude but communities cannot be blamed if they are not empowered with the correct information.

Hopefully the department of health will find ways to make this information available to all communities as this will also assist in making their work easier.

Cometh Dube-Makholwa, Midrand

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