DENOSA Northern Cape reports provincial health department to SA Human Rights Commission, SA Nursing Council and Office Health Standards Compliance over inhumane conditions and neglect of patients’ dignity at Kuruman District Hospital.

KIMBERLEY – Following the complaints received by the Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (DENOSA) from the nurses over inhumane conditions that patients are cared for at Kuruman District Hospital and the organisation’s subsequent visit to the facility on 3 May 2023 where it found appalling conditions in the facility’s maternity section, DENOSA has lodged formal complaints with three public entities – the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC), South African Nursing Council (SANC) and Office of Health Standards Compliance (OHSC) – on 4 May 2023.

DENOSA has called on these entities to do their own inspections and investigations on the violations of both patients’ and healthcare workers’ constitutional rights and dignity due to the appalling conditions that have characterized the facility without any tangible plan to address the unacceptable deplorable situation.

DENOSA gave both the institution and the Department of Health in the province until 14 May 2023 to improve the current dire situation at Kuruman Hospital. Failure to turn around the poor state of health at the facility’s maternity section by 15 May 2023 will see DENOSA withdrawing the nursing staff in the maternity ward who are deliberately made to risk with their career as they could be litigated and could be sued for misconduct.

On 3 May 2023, DENOSA visited the facility and found the inhumane conditions in which nurses must provide patient care and maternal services to their patients. DENOSA discovered the following on its visit:

·        Only three midwives were on duty per shift and, on this particular day, there were 53 patients in the ward (which has become a norm) which has a bed capacity for 25 patients divided amongst antenatal ward, post- natal ward and the delivery rooms. This excluded the 20 babies that were in the ward.

·        That 28 mothers were lying on blankets. All of the partitions had doubled the capacity than what it ordinarily should have.

·        Privacy and Infection Prevention and Control could not be promoted because of the overcrowding.

·        The dignity of patients cannot be promoted because of the overcrowding.

·        Neonatal babies that ordinarily would be treated in a Neonatal HC or ICU were being treated in the delivery ward under the baby warmer with only a nasal canula and no monitors to continuously monitor the vital signs of the neonate. The midwives also indicated that Neonates were not being transferred out even if they required advanced care and there has been several instances where neonates had to be continuously oxygenated with an ambu bag as a manner of breathing support as the necessary breathing assistance machinery is not available at the hospital.

·        The ward does have CTG machines, but it has been months that there is no CTG paper and therefore it becomes impossible to monitor the progress and condition of an unborn baby during delivery. This will result to cases of birth injuries or even still births.

·        The three midwives have to divide themselves to provide nursing care to antenatal patients, postnatal patients, mothers in the active phase of labour, neonatal care, doctors rounds and the high-risk clinic. This unfortunately results in patients being neglected as well as the maternal records that need to be completed being left incomplete because of the sheer number of patients and the severe shortage of midwives on duty. The midwives have indicated that this situation has become the norm and that they are fearing that maternal and infant deaths will exponentially increase in the facility because of the poor conditions in which these mothers have to receive maternal nursing care.


By reporting the matter to the three entities, DENOSA seeks their immediate intervention, through inspections and investigations, on the violations of many constitutional rights of patients and the rights of healthcare workers to render their patient care in a conducive and positive practice environment.  

Enclosed are the three letters that DENOSA has written to the three entities.


Issued by DENOSA in Northern Cape.

For more information, contact:

Anthony Vassen, Provincial Secretary.

Mobile: 072 569 9838.

Gilbert Sak, Provincial Chairperson. Mobile: 072 472 9137.