Staff and patients held hostage by crime at Nelson Mandela Bay clinics: DA

SEPTEMBER 8, 2016

Continuous break-ins at clinics in the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro (NMBM) must end and the safety of staff and patients must be ensured, says the Democratic Alliance (DA) in the Eastern Cape.

The party, through a coalition, took over administration of the municipality after winning the 2016 Local Government Elections.

"It is a basic right for people to work in a safe environment and for patients to receive proper healthcare," said Celeste Barker (MPL), the DA's Shadow MEC for Health in the Eastern Cape..

She said four horror stories at clinics in the NMBM have caused unnecessary pain and suffering to thousands of people:

  • A robbery at the New Brighton Clinic on Monday, 5 September 2016;
  • A stabbing inside the Veeplaas Clinic two weeks ago;
  • Robbery and alleged assault at the Zwide Clinic in July 2016; and
  • The New Brighton Clinic was robbed of its computer as well as all of its recyclable geyser components.

"This vital facility is now at risk of water damage (thieves gained access via the roof and broke the ceiling) and cannot serve its community until the roof and ceiling are repaired and the geyser has been replaced," Barker described.

"The NMB Metro, therefore, has one less clinic in an area which serves 96 000 patients per annum. Life has just become tougher for the 96 000 souls who relied on services at the New Brighton Clinic.

"Two weeks ago, a stabbing took place inside the Veeplaas Clinic. Apparently, nurses were so traumatised that they left the clinic voluntarily and are working at the Zwide-, Soweto- and Kwamagxaki Clinics. This means that the 34 000 patients served by the Veeplaas Clinic per annum will also have to find another clinic and travel further to do so."

Barker said, in July 2016, a Security Guards’ vehicle and their cell phones were stolen at the Zwide Clinic and they, together with their supervisor, were allegedly beaten up.

"Here too, 114 000 patients are at risk, despite the Department of Health’s designation of this and the New Brighton Clinic to achieve 'Ideal Clinic' status by 31 December 2017.

"The DA is deeply troubled about patient safety and well-being at all provincial clinics and hospitals in the Eastern Cape.

"I have tabled legislature questions to the MEC for Health, Dr. Pumza Dyantyi, about these incidents and about a woefully inadequate budget that allocates R377 000 to the maintenance of 51 facilities in the NMBM to service 1.2 million people," she said.

"This equates to an amount of R7 300 per clinic per annum and is clearly too little to maintain buildings or to provide safe spaces for those long suffering patients who queue from 04:00 in the morning or to the staff who risk life and limb for the Department of Health (DoH).

"We call on the DoH to take a leaf from our books. Where we govern in the Western Cape, our clinics are well resourced and budgets serve the health needs of all our people regardless of their status."