DENOSA KZN statement on the attack of a patient by security guards at Escort Hospital.

 DURBAN – The Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (DENOSA) in KwaZulu-Natal condemns the incident where a patient was recorded being beaten up by a security guard, which took place at Escort Hospital on Thursday night.

 But DENOSA also calls for the Department of Health to stop mixing psychiatric patients with normal patients in general wards or else more patients and healthcare workers will be hurt. We call on community members who have their relatives as psychiatric patients to ensure that their relatives are not accommodated in normal wards because such wards are not equipped adequately to serve the needs of such a patient and may either be endangered or endanger other patients and healthcare workers.   

 DENOSA finds it strange that, subsequent to this incident, three nurses have been suspended with the two securities involved.

 Whilst we condemn the behaviour of the security guards in the manner in which they handled the incident, we are aware, however, that this is caused by the dismal failure of the department in the following, which we have been complaining about over the years:

 1.      Mixing of mental health care users with ordinary patients in general wards where nurses are not trained to deal with psychiatric patients and their behaviour. This mixing of patients does not only pose a threat to nurses who are not trained to manage them, but also is a threat to other patients (three years ago, a psychiatric patient admitted in a general ward at Prince Mshiyeni Memorial Hospital woke up and attacked a fellow patient. The patient died soon after).

 2.      Failure of the department to orientate security personnel responsible for these types of patients and on how to manage violent patients.

 3.      Infrastructural challenges where there are no seclusion rooms in general wards to isolate such patients while they are waiting for beds in psychiatric hospitals which are always full.

 “We are of the view that nurses are now used as scapegoats for management’s dismal failure in that hospital to admit patients in correct wards and allocate qualified or specialist nurses to deal with such patients,” says DENOSA Provincial Secretary, Mandla Shabangu.

 “Out of the nurses involved there is an Enrolled Nursing Assistant (ENA) who has been suspended after this incident. The question is: what would an ENA have done to treat a violent psychiatric patient when they are never trained on psychiatry?

 DENOSA KZN is dismayed by the institution’s decision to immediately suspend nurses without even giving them the opportunity to state their side of the story.

 It is within the code of conduct of the public servants that if the employer intends to suspend the employee for misconduct, the employee must be given the opportunity to state why she/he should not be suspended. But in this case, this procedure was disregarded by the management of the hospital merely as a PR stunt to satisfy both the media and the public that they are doing something about the matter.

 It is very unfortunate that our members have to be exposed to such treatment for failure of management to make environment conducive for both patients and workers, but they opt to take short cuts and put the blame on the nursing staff.

 DENOSA will be engaging the institution to immediately uplift this unfair suspension of its members.


 Issued by the Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (DENOSA) in KwaZulu-Natal.

For more information, contact:

Mandla Shabangu, Provincial SecretaryMobile: 071 643 3369