There is no shortage of Covid-19 personal protective equipment (PPE) at Empilweni TB Hospital in Port Elizabeth.
But 38 nurses from this hospital are refusing to treat Covid-19 patients saying patients with the illness are not their responsibility.
Government has been paying their salaries for eight months while they refuse to do their jobs.
Their complaint: they were never told that at some point in their nursing careers they would have to treat Covid-19 patients.
They work in a TB hospital that was forced by rising cases of Covid-19 in the Port Elizabeth area to admit Covid-19 patients.
Provincial Health spokesperson Sizwe Kupelo says the government has now suspended the nurses.
“The nurses from Empilweni are being subjected to an internal disciplinary action for refusing to work with Covid-19 cases.”
Nursing union Denosa says their members were never consulted on converting the hospital.
Denosa provincial secretary Khaya Sodidi said: “There has been a standoff for eight months between the nurses and the Eastern Cape Department of Health.
“The TB patients were transported overnight to make space for Covid-19 patients,” said Sodidi.
He said they have been questioning the decision but the department won’t listen.
“TB hospitals are scarce and we have enough Covid-19 hospitals. We have the Stadium, Field Hospital, Dora Nginza and Livingstone Hospital for Covid-19 cases,” he said.
“The nurses asked to be sent to hospitals where they would do the job they know best. The hospital refused and decided to suspend them. But we will continue fighting for our members.”
Sodidi said the nurses were suspended with full pay and benefits.
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