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Angry patients shout at striking health workers in Kariega

Thamsanqa Mbovane

Dozens of patients, tired of being ignored by protesting staff, carried chairs to Laetitia Bam Day Hospital in KwaNobuhle, Kariega, on Monday afternoon and shouted in the hallways.

“We will die in this clinic, because of these stupid nurses. Give us our medicine and keep knocking alone,” one protester shouted.

“This is the second week of staff protests,” one patient said. “They ignore us…every time we come here to seek our treatment.”

Meanwhile, the singing staff members staged a sit-in.

In question, contracts which ended on March 31 for community health workers and Covid contract workers. They ask to be absorbed by the Ministry of Health.

Thembisa Witbooi, an organizer with NEHAWU, the country’s largest public sector union, said that without contract workers, the province’s health facilities are understaffed. “Permanent nurses perform administrative duties and other non-clinical duties for which they were not employed,” she said.

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

She said: “We explained to the union leaders that we had run out of money…The Department is committed to filling vacancies within the available budget.

This article first appeared in @Groundup and is republished with permission.

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