Nehawu: Negligence, lack of PPE contributing to Covid-19 amongst health workers
The National Education, Health and Allied Workers' Union (Nehawu) has threatened to embark on mass protest action in August, including stay-aways and pickets, if government doesn't remedy the situation.
The union held a media briefing on Tuesday exposing some of the dangerous working conditions in which healthcare workers and staff are working across the country.
Nehawu has compiled a report after its leadership conducted a fact-finding investigation at hospitals in the Western Cape, Gauteng, Kwa-Zulu Natal, and Eastern Cape.
The report raises several concerns that the government needs to address, including the lack of PPE in hospitals, non-compliance with health and safety regulations, staff shortages, and issues with procurement.
Nehawu spokesperson Khaya Xaba says some hospital managers are forcing their staff to work even when they present with Covid-19 symptoms.
Due to PPE shortages, emergency medical services staff have resorted to using refuse bags as a form of protection, Xaba adds.
The union has also found that some workers have their Covid-19 test results withheld from them.
Xaba says that the government needs to address the dire state of the public healthcare system and the dangerous working conditions of health workers.
The stats of infected healthcare workers has skyrocketed. The number is at 13,1025 as we speak [on Tuesday 28 July]... we believe that some this is partly because of negligence and problems with the procurement of PPE.Khaya Xaba, Spokesperson - Nehawu
We believe that we can lower the number if we are to follow the guidelines and ensure that workers are protected.Khaya Xaba, Spokesperson - Nehawu
The fight is currently in healthcare institutions, that's where resources should be directed.Khaya Xaba, Spokesperson - Nehawu
We visited a number of workplaces included private and public healthcare institutions.Khaya Xaba, Spokesperson - Nehawu
Most workers don't have PPE. They don't have sufficient protection, from cleaners and porters to frontline workers.Khaya Xaba, Spokesperson - Nehawu
It's more prevalent with EMS workers, those who deal with ambulances, certain times they have to use a refuse bag as aprons so that they don't come into contact with the virus. Some use scarves instead of masks.Khaya Xaba, Spokesperson - Nehawu
Listen to the discussion on Afternoon Drive with John Maytham:
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