nursing thumb medium90 93The Mercury reports that health-care workers at the forefront of the Covid-19 pandemic in public hospitals are concerned about their health and safety, as they are expected to work without masks and protective gear.  

The already stressed workers were dealt another blow this week, when they received correspondence from their respective managers, threatening them with disciplinary action if they refused to work without masks or protective gear.  Mandla Shabangu, KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) secretary of the Democratic Nursing Organisation of SA (Denosa), said they were considering legal action to interdict the department against instituting disciplinary action against staff who refused to work at a facility without personal protective equipment (PPE).  According to Shabangu, the KZN municipalities, especially eThekwini and uMgungundlovu, were hardest hit by the national shortage of PPE.  Dr Akhtar Hussain of the SA Medical Association (Sama) said the health department’s failure to provide PPE to health-care workers was a human-rights violation.  He indicated that they were addressing the matter with Minister of Health Zweli Mkhize, as it was unacceptable to threaten staff with disciplinary action when their own health was at risk.  Sama has asked members to provide it with the names of hospitals not providing staff with PPE.  However, the department denied there was a shortage of masks, adding that it would be addressing the matter with health-care facilities that were without protective gear.  The department is also expected to have a meeting with unions.

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