Angry patients shout at striking health workers

Staff protest at Laetitia Bam Day Hospital in Kariega for a second week

By Thamsanqa Mbovane

4 April 2022

Fed up with protesting nurses, patients shouted down the corridors at Laetitia Bam Day Hospital in Kariega on Monday afternoon. Photo: Thamsanqa Mbovane

Dozens of patients, fed up with being ignored by protesting staff, carried chairs into Laetitia Bam Day Hospital in KwaNobuhle, Kariega, on Monday afternoon and shouted down the corridors.

“We will die inside this clinic, because of these stupid nurses. Give us our medication and then continue to strike alone,” a protester shouted.

“This is the second week of protest by the staff,” said a patient. “They ignore us … every time we come here to fetch our treatment.”

Meanwhile, singing staff members held a sit-in.

At issue are contracts that ended on 31 March for community health workers and Covid contract workers. They are demanding to be absorbed by the health department.

Thembisa Witbooi, an organiser for NEHAWU, the country’s largest public sector trade union, said that without contract workers, health facilities across the province were short-staffed. “Permanent nurses are doing admin work and other non-clinical jobs that they were not employed to do,” she said.

Eastern Cape Department of Health spokesperson Yonela Dekeda said Covid contract workers had been covered by disaster management funding, and the department was unable to extend the contracts of more than 8,000 workers.

She said, “We explained to union leadership that we don’t have money any longer … The Department is committed to filling vacancies within the available budget.”