NEHAWU Eastern Cape statement on the growing number of infected workers in private health care institutions

The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union [NEHAWU] in the Eastern Cape notes with grave concern the growing number of workers getting infected with the coronavirus in private healthcare institutions in the province.

More than six workers tested positive on the 26th May 2020 and from then on the number has been growing on a daily basis. These are healthcare workers who are critical in the fight against the spread of the disease.

NEHAWU has been inundated with calls from members and workers who are subjected to the trauma of being isolated in secret at various bed and breakfast establishments after testing positive. Our members and workers are intimidated not to divulge such information as more infections are registered in private health institutions across the province. 

Hospitals in the province have been concealing information of infected patients, workers and mortalities including the management of the East London private Hospital which concealed the death of one patient who tested positive and unfortunately died on the way to hospital on the 23rd May 2020.

Reports from private hospitals like Life St Dominic’s have not been published as testing is done by private laboratories such as Ampath, Path lab and not the National Health Laboratory Services [NHLS] used by public hospitals. We have reasons to believe that there is a continued underreporting of infections by private healthcare institutions and as a result the statistics of the province cannot be confirmed to be the true reflection of the numbers of infected people and mortalities.

We continue to receive reports that private hospitals continue to mix patients who are infected and those who are negative in one ward. More wards are closed in private hospitals as more bed and breakfast establishments including private hotels such as at the Reef in Nahoon are used to quarantine some of the positive patients.

We want to challenge the Regional Manager Mr Bruce Sampson to pronounce in public that all the due and necessary tender processes were followed to procure the goods and services of the B&Bs and also he must declare in public that he has not at any time intimidated our members and workers who wanted to speak in public about what is taking place in the private hospitals.

We demand that all the private healthcare institutions in the Eastern Cape comply with the directives issued by the Department of Employment and Labour and immediately establish health and safety committees which must be completed before the end of June 2020. We are not going to accept the unilateral decision of declaring St James private hospital as a quarantine site without engaging workers through their unions first. NEHAWU in the Eastern Cape will leave no stone unturned to get to the bottom of the challenges in the private healthcare sector in the province.

The Department of Employment and Labour is called to perform its duties diligently when called upon to inspect these institutions that are suspected of flouting the rules and regulations of Covid-19. We want to make a call to the Department of Health especially the directorate led by Dr Moko to continue to intervene and make the private hospitals to account for their atrocities which we demand that they are immediately investigated. In this regard, we call for punitive measures to be implemented by the MEC of Health against transgressors even if it means the withdrawal of the licencing of some of the private healthcare institutions.

Issued by NEHAWU Secretariat Miki Jaceni (Provincial Secretary) at 082 4552745; or email: