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By tshwanetalks.com

HAITU General Secretary Lerato Mthunzi
HAITU General Secretary Lerato Mthunzi

The Health and Allied Workers Indaba Trade Union (HAITU) would like to pass its most heartfelt condolences to the family of the patient who lost her life due to a fire incident at George Mukhari Hospital, which occurred on the 24th of June.

According to HAITU General Secretary Lerato Mthunzi while the SAPS is in the process of investigating the cause of the fire, we are very concerned, as a union, whose members are at the coalface of providing critical healthcare services to the public.

There has been a drastic reduction of budgets in all sectors of government, and the most affected has been healthcare.

Maintenance at public healthcare facilities is minimal at best, due to the austerity policy that the government has been implementing for many years.

Additionally, chronic understaffing also has a material impact on the quality of healthcare provision. We are not surprised that such an incident can occur, and we fully expect that there will be more similar incidents, as long as the cost cutting continues.

“Our concerns as HAITU, also extend to the fact that the Gauteng Department of Health’s (GDoH), is not taking full responsibility for the loss of life, when one reads their statement.

We wish to remind the GDoH that patient care and well-being are core responsibilities of the hospital, in which patients are admitted,” said HAITU General Secretary Lerato Mthunzi.

Mthunzi said this is even more so in the case of mental health patients.

In this sad incident, the patient was secluded, but was not extensively monitored, as she should have been.

There are mechanisms and protocols in the health care system that are meant to safeguard the wellbeing of mental health patients.

These protocols were not followed in this instance.

“This sad and entirely avoidable incident is a reminder of the Life Esidimeni tragedy in which one hundred and forty-one (141) lives were lost because of GDoH’s attempt to cut costs in the provision of mental health services,” she said.

She said many of those victims died from neglect and starvation.

It seems to us that no lessons were learnt from that tragedy.

We are cautioning the GDoH in advance, that they dare not blame workers for this incident.

The department must take full responsibility for its failures, and must not seek to scapegoat hardworking healthcare workers for this latest failure on their part. HAITU will defend those workers, because for many years, we have been calling for the department to adequately resource the sector so that staff and equipment shortages can be a thing of the past.

“HAITU continues to demand the end of austerity.

We demand that healthcare must be adequately funded, and the NHI implemented urgently in order to improve the provision of healthcare services to the masses.

Anything short of this, is a betrayal of millions of black and poor South Africans who rely on the government to provide quality healthcare services. We as HAITU will boldly call it out, every time,” Mthunzi concluded.

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