In light of the recent tragic events which have taken place at the Pelenomi Academic Tertiary Hospital, the DA reiterates our growing concerns with regard to the inadequate security and increasing security breaches which have plagued personnel at our health institutions.
The hospital, amongst others, serves as a training facility for students from the University of the Free State, and the constant safety concerns experienced by these students pose a significant threat to the learning outcomes and emotional trauma experienced by students.
It is unacceptable and extremely poor labour practice that medical personnel who are employed at the hospitals have to put their lives at risk in order to put bread on the table. Patients at these facilities face similar risks.
My oversight visits have indicated that these concerns are not only applicable to Pelenomi Hospital but also other health facilities across the Free State. Some other examples include fights that break out in emergency rooms between belligerent gangs and individuals, forcing personnel to lock themselves into rooms. It is also evident that access control to these facilities is poor and in some instances non-existent, an example of which is the poor condition of the perimeter fence at Pelenomi Hospital.
In light of the above, I have written to both the MEC and HOD of the Department of Health proposing the following interventions:
• Ensure the continuous monitoring of all personnel and patients who access the hospital and have visible security at all times;
• Supply the personnel of the hospital with panic buttons in certain isolated areas, which are handed over amongst personnel between shifts;
• Exceptions ruin the integrity of the safety net, personnel or executives should not be allowed to be exempt from procedures;
• Listen to suggestions and complaints. Make sure personnel are familiar with safety procedures and are provided with a platform where they can voice their concerns;
• If safety procedures fail, focus on improvement rather than blame. Everyone in the hospital should be focused on preventing the same mistake from occurring again;
• Provide the necessary training to all personnel, which is not solely focused on medical practice and theory, but provides a component of training which is directed towards identifying possible risks in hospitals;
• Ensure that adequate access and perimeter security is in place at all health facilities in the province; and
• Ensure that there are adequate numbers of trained security personnel at all health facilities who are able to identify individuals of security interest and carry out procedures to mitigate security concerns.
It is essential that the Department of Health establish a legacy of safety, which inspires confidence in all employees (medical and support) and which protects the integrity of the medical profession.
The DA will continue working towards a strong culture of safety that should not rely on a single individual or group, but should embody principles which champion the wellbeing of all personnel working in our healthcare sector.
Issued by The DA