The Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (DENOSA) is extremely concerned at the reckless manner in which Tsepong group dismissed 346 nurses, mostly specialist nurses, at Lesotho's only tertiary healthcare facility on Friday as this move is likely to put more strain on the already overstretched South African healthcare facilities in provinces that border Lesotho.
What is more disappointing is that the dismissal of these highest qualified nurses in Lesotho is over a mere complaint about the salary discrepancies that is applied at the institution; nurses with the same skills set and number of years of experience doing the same work are earning different salaries at the institution. Their sin is for demanding a remuneration structure at the institution.
Only 5 percent nurses remain at the institution, and key service units such as Casualty, ICU and Neonatal ICU are without nurses. This essentially means that Lesotho is currently in no position to provide high care health services to all its citizens as Queen Mamohato Memorial Hospital in Maseru was the only facility that provided such as a service in the entire country.
DENOSA calls on the government of Lesotho to not allow the whole citizenry of Lesotho to suffer due to poor labour-relations management by Tsepong group (which is a management group of the hospital). The self-righteous behaviour by Tsepong will only bring disaster and more suffering to the people of Lesotho because those who can't afford to come to South Africa for care will either die at home or will die in facilities due to no capacity to care for them as they will be needing high care.
DENOSA also feels that Tsepong group is also transferring the healthcare problems of Lesotho to South African healthcare system and healthcare workers unnecessarily. Many patients, including management of the same Tsepong group, will have to travel to healthcare facilities either in the Free State or KwaZulu-Natal, including the Eastern Cape, over a matter that they could have resolved easily. This is because there are no nurses who have done the specialist courses needed to operate the machines and equipment at the tertiary hospital.
Once the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic arrives in Lesotho, it will surely wipe away many patients, especially the elderly and those with comorbidities as they quickly suffer severity of infection and will need high care in the form of ICU and would need oxygens, which can only be provided at the Queen Mamohato Memorial Hospital.
DENOSA is in full support of its sister organisation in Lesotho, the Lesotho Nurses Association (LNA), in calling for the implementation of a salary structure in Lesotho. This will bring labour peace and a positive environment for many nurses who are aggrieved.
Netcare group, which forms part of the conglomerate of companies under Tsepong, must also do in Lesotho as it does in South Africa because its hospitals have a salary structure that is in place. This will avert this crisis.
DENOSA wishes all affected nurses at the facility great strength and resilience during this time of senselessness at Tsepong.
All our thoughts and prayers are with the nurses of Lesotho.
Issued by the Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (DENOSA)