IFP: KZN MEC of Health Must Provide a Detailed Plan to Improve Security and Safety in Public Health Care Facilities

The IFP in KZN is deeply concerned with the poor safety and security measures at KZN public hospitals and calls on the KZN MEC of Health, Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu to come up with a well detailed plan armed with clear timeframe and tangible solutions on how and when she intends to improve safety in provincial hospitals.

This comes after two armed men stormed past Clairwood Hospital security in Mobeni around18:30 on Friday, and proceeded to locate a ward with a male patient, shot him dead in full view of other patients and hospital staff. The suspects are also alleged to have then forced their way out of the hospital by pointing guns at the hospital security guards.

The IFP is worried at the shocking frequency of such incidences whereby criminals do as they please in government hospistals and this incident is a clear indication that the KZN Department of Health has failed dismally to take the issue of hospital safety seriously.
We have raised our concerns about lack of safety in hospitals many times in the past but our calls fell on deaf ears and now again life has been lost. The MEC of Health, Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu and the national government must take the blame for the failure to prioritize safety and security in our public healthcare facilities which should be of paramount importance.

Hospitals and clinics are supposed to be safe environments for patients, health care workers as well as the general public. Far too often we hear of staff as well as patients being assaulted, killed and robbed in hospitals. The national Department of Health officials promised to put Police Enforcement in all public health care facilities but we have not seen this plan materialise. It is therefore clear that the government continues to fail patients, health care workers and the general public in this country. If police were dispatched as soon as the plan was made public, this incident, a loss of life would have been avoided. It is very critical that security at health care facilities are tightened up.

Excuses will not do anything to improve the situation and will only let rot to worsen. Almost all spheres of health care service are affected. It is, therefore, high time for the KZN Department of Health to address these issues in the short, medium and long term. As a political head of the Department it is duty of the MEC to come up with tangible solutions to address this growing crisis in KZN public health care facilities.

The question of cost for the safety improvement and the implementation, may also arise. But can one put a price on the lives and the safety of the patients and staff? We should never have to worry that when we send our loved ones to hospital, we will have to see them in the mortuary.

The IFP further urges the MEC to ensure that the plan to improve security and safety should be able to go as far as eradicating crime within health care facilities, where some health care staff are involved in corruption within the health sector. Just recently two health workers were caught with millions worth of stolen HIV treatment. Improving security should see these type of sysndicates coming to an end.

Also, we hope that the safety plan will deal with incidences where emergency services staff get abused and robbed of their belongings when responding to public calls in various communities. The safety of all health workers and patients comes first, therefore their safety must be prioritised.

The killing of a patient at Clairwood Hospital is an indication that government has failed dismally to eradicate illegal guns. Fact of life is that in this province hardly a day passes without us hearing of another murder and theft, and all sorts of criminal activities done with the help of guns. Criminals are already a step ahead of the law enforcement agencies. Therefore, we urge government to do more in eradicating illegal guns in our society.

The IFP calls upon the police to work around the clock to apprehend the suspects that shot and killed a patient at Clairwood Hospital.

The IFP demands that the Department of Health and Department of Community Safety and Liaison to work together in a speedily manner in provinding the necessary safety improvement needed in our health facilities.

Lastly, we call on the KZN MEC of Health, Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu to urgently conduct an audit on how security companies contracted to hospitals are carrying out their duties and if found to be negligent, their contracts must be terminated.

Mrs Ncamisile Nkwanyana MPL,
IFP KZN Provincial Spokesperson on Health
078 302 3991