MENTAL Health Unit patients at Cecilia Makiwane Hospital (CMH) have been
left stranded as nurses staged a sit-in for the second time in a month.
As a result of the strike action, male and female patients were moved into
one ward because there wasn't enough staff to man two wards.
The nurses began their protest action on Monday after the Department of
Health reneged on an agreement to implement payment of their Occupational
Specific Dispensation (OSD) allowances, a promise made three weeks ago
following similar action.
Yesterday, psychiatric outpatients were turned away while at least 40
inpatients were left with only one nurse. The nurses vowed that they would
not go back to work until the department gave them concrete assurances they
would be paid.
The department has meanwhile appointed staff from a nursing agent to assist
at the hospital. Yesterday afternoon the nurses expressed their shock at
learning of the department's request for assistance.
"This is an indication that there is money," some of the nurses said. The
CMH unit was responsible for the whole Border region, providing mental
health services to children, adults and prisoners.
East London Hospital Complex chief executive officer Vuyo Mosana said a
departmental official would meet with the striking nurses today to discuss
issues they had raised. - Ntando Makhubu