South Africa: Eastern Cape Hospitals in Crisis As Health Workers Stay Away


A doctor had to drive a critically ill patient to hospital himself as several healthcare workers are refusing to work or treat Covid-19 patients in the Eastern Cape. The health department has confirmed that "many are refusing to work". The problem is made worse by more than 6,000 vacancies that existed in the province before the pandemic began. And R30-billion in legal claims against the department have eaten away at the budget for new appointments.

A doctor at one of the Eastern Cape's rural hospitals put on personal protective equipment, got into an ambulance and drove a critically ill Covid-19 patient to the Nelson Mandela Academic Hospital in Mthatha. This, while crippling staff shortages continue to ravage the province's public health facilities.

Eastern Cape Health Department spokesperson Sizwe Kupelo confirmed that there were many state hospitals in the province where employees were refusing to work since the arrival of this novel coronavirus in the country.

"But there are many who are carrying the work. They are my heroes," said Kupelo.

According to a statement issued by the health department on 1 June, there were 4,111 positive cases of Covid-19 in the province. The Eastern Cape currently has the third-highest number...

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