The Health and Allied Workers Indaba Trade Union (HAITU) has come out gund blazing to defend three nurses, who are accused of neglecting a minor patient at the Thelle Mogoerane Regional Hospital in Vosloorus, Ekurhuleni. The nurses were suspended by the Gauteng Health Department of Health (GDoH) last week Friday following a viral video of the mother complaining about the treatment her child was receiving at the hospital. The mother shared a video of her child sitting on a bed with soiled linen.
HAITU has vowed to defend the nurses and said they are being unfairly publicly victimised by the department and have been suspended without any due processes being followed. "The facts are that there is a shortage of colostomy bags in the hospital. Shortages of colostomy bags and other essential items are unfortunately very common at Thelle Mogoerane Regional Hospital, due to the drastic budget cuts by the health department. This patient was supposed to be using a colostomy bag because, unfortunately, he is unable to pass stool in a regular manner. The stool is passed through an opening on his abdomen, and a colostomy bag catches the 'poop' and ensures that a patient is able to stay clean and his or her dignity is protected," the union said in a statement.
HAITU said that nurses at the hospital are forced to improvise because of the lack of colostomy bags. "They put him in a diaper in order to manage the situation, but unfortunately, the patient removed the diaper. It is unfortunate that at that moment, a video was taken, creating the false impression that nurses failed in their duties. The department is responsible for this situation. The failure to provide basic items means that patients will suffer indignity because nurses cannot adequately treat them. This patient should have had a colostomy bag, and nurses should never have had to improvise with a diaper. We condemn the department for continuously parading healthcare workers in the media and blaming them for its own failures."
The union said healthcare workers are expected to deliver miracles and take care of patients, without any basic items. "This is another sad reminder of how budget cuts compromise good service. HAITU rejects the idea that workers must take the fall for an uncaring department, which takes no responsibility for the crisis it has created. We condemn the GDoH for scapegoating health workers and for failing to conduct a proper investigation to establish the facts! HAITU will be defending these workers from what is clearly an unfair process. We demand that the department must stop scapegoating workers and opportunistically using the media to smear the name of hard-working healthcare workers in this country. HAITU has dispatched a team to the hospital to engage the management on this issue.