25 February 2013

South Africa: Denosa?s Positive Challenge to Friday?s Inciting Reporting On the Mamelodi Day Hospital Crisis By Daily Sun

With great reluctance, Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (DENOSA) would like to voice its unhappiness and concern in the manner in which Daily Sun reported the current crisis at the Mamelodi Day Hospital on Friday 22 February, under the title: "Hell Hospital!" on page 6.

This form of reporting could potentially incite conflict between community and health workers as a result of the infrastructural wrongs at that hospital, and many other hospitals around the country.

As a result of this, DENOSA and South African Medical Association (SAMA) would like to challenge Daily Sun into working with them on the Positive Practice Environment (PPE) campaign that nurses and doctors will be embarking on soon nationwide, which calls for better infrastructure and support in health facilities for the benefit of patients and the communities.

The main cause of frustration at the Mamelodi Day Hospital and many other health centres are as a result of shortage of infrastructure at the hospital. For example, the three-bed casualty ward at the hospital, which is the most critical ward in the hospital, has only one cardiac monitor that is operational. The other two monitors have been sent for repairs since January this year.

The hospital, which is the only hospital in the area, has a staff complement of around 14 people which comprise of about three doctors, three professional nurses, three enrolled nurse assistants and three or four enrolled nurse assistants. These are supported by two administrative clerks, and two cleaners.

In particular, as the organisation representing members in the nursing profession, DENOSA views seriously the paper’s reported allegations that nurses at the hospital switch off the life-support systems when ‘irritated’ by patients, thus killing patients. Just as journalism profession is guided by principles of accuracy and fairness among others, we feel that this allegation cannot be left unchallenged as it ridicules the pledge of service that nurses make before they work as nurses.

The publication also reports allegations that, due to poor filing at the hospital which results in many files going missing, nurses take files belonging to their friends and relatives home for safe-keeping and second-guess which medication to give patients whose files have gone missing.

Our concern over this report is, what will stop the community from marching to the hospital in anger if nurses, as reported by Daily Sun, kill patients of Mamelodi on purpose by switching off life-support systems if nurses are irritated by patients?

DENOSA’s provincial leadership will be paying a visit to the hospital to check the conditions under which nurses and patients find themselves.

We hope Daily Sun will find it in their caring heart to come on board and assist the health professionals from the two organisations in this campaign so that the 5 million readers of the paper could be served in health centres with enough equipment and resources if the campaign succeeds.

We look forward to hearing from them.

Issued by Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (DENOSA)

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