Given the sharp rise in COVID-19 infections in the country and the rising number of healthcare workers who are infected, the Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (DENOSA) would like to forewarn the country, especially the National Department of Health and provincial governments of the next wave of crisis – the shortage of healthcare workers who will be desperately needed to care for the many patients who are admitted in facilities due to rising infection rate among healthcare workers who are now in quarantine and some are in self-isolation needing care.
DENOSA reiterates its earlier call to its members not to risk their lives if they are not provided with sufficient PPE. DENOSA has its members, shop stewards and leaders in self-isolation due to contracting COVID-19 while some have passed away.
More concerning is that this daily sharp increase of infections is at the time when the country relaxes the national lockdown regulations and prepares to allow even more people back to work as various sections of the economy are reopened.
What will breed more crisis is that the government has abandoned the policing of its own regulations under level 3: taxi operators have forced their way and are loading passengers 100% and resumed with cross-border transportation and there are no reports of enforcement of regulations by law enforcement agencies. Many of these taxi passengers will fall sick and will add to the already overstretched healthcare system, and will be cared for by no one in facilities due to the existing shortage of staff.
Patients won’t have healthcare workers to look after them as more and more healthcare workers themselves get infected at an alarming rate despite the many calls from labour unions for provision of sufficient personal protective equipment (PPE) to healthcare workers. Healthcare workers themselves now have become patients that need care, and this will leave thousands of patients in facilities without caregivers.
And the field hospitals that provinces are busy preparing will not have enough healthcare workers because there is a serious shortage of staff even in the existing healthcare facilities, something that we have raised many times and way before this crisis.
With this crisis still engulfing the country, DENOSA warns of a further crisis that is likely to hit the country hard for years to come: migration of healthcare workers to better working environments overseas as soon as our borders are reopened.
While they are working their socks off in fighting COVID19 and risking their families, healthcare workers in the public sector have not had their salary adjustments for the 2020 financial year effected by the same unresponsive government four months later. They are demotivated and will leave the country as soon as recruitment for overseas work begins. And countries like the UK, UAE, Saudi Arabia and many others have seen the low death and high recovery rates of COVID-19 cases in South Africa, which speak volumes about the skills of local healthcare workers. Soon this skill will be lost to the nation in large numbers because the only shred that government is clinging on its healthcare workforce is their patriotism and nothing more.
Issued by the Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (DENOSA)
For more information, contact:
Cassim Lekhoathi, DENOSA Acting General Secretary
Cell: 082 328 9671
Simon Hlungwani, DENOSA President
Cell: 082 328 9635