DA calls for urgent oversight inspection to King Edward VIII as nurses threaten strike action

Democratic Alliance media statement by Dr Imran Keeka, MPL

DA KZN Spokesperson on Health


DA calls for urgent oversight inspection to King Edward VIII as nurses threaten strike action


The Democratic Alliance in KwaZulu-Natal has today written to the province’s Health Portfolio Committee Chairperson, Dr Yusuf Bhamjee, requesting an urgent oversight inspection to Durban’s King Edward VIII Hospital (see letter here). This as nursing staff threaten strike action over shocking conditions.

The threat, by the Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (DENOSA), includes a warning that its members will stop attending to patients at Durban’s King Edward VIII hospital from tomorrow until their working conditions improve.

The situation comes after the facility, which is around 85 years old, was severely damaged by storms last year leading to an estimated repair bill of R25 million. The storm damage comes on top of very little infrastructure maintenance taking place during MEC KZN Health MEC, Sibongiseni Dhlomo’s almost 10 year tenure which has also led to numerous hospitals and clinics falling into ruin.

While the DA acknowledges that nursing staff are concerned for their own and their patients’ wellbeing, and that they have been driven to this point by an uncaring MEC, the reality is that strike action will place their patients’ lives in even more danger.

Oversight inspections by the DA to King Edward VII hospital late last year and again earlier this year, along with questions raised during Health Portfolio committee meetings, have confirmed that storm damage repairs at King Edward are underway.

Regrettably though, the DA has also witnessed first-hand that patient care remains grossly compromised. While hospital management and staff have made every effort to transfer patients to other facilities and have, in most cases, also asked staff to travel to those facilities to manage their patients, it is clearly not enough. The moving of patients was done especially for surgical and orthopaedic patients. The DA has also raised the matter of infection control previously and we are shocked to learn that the matter has deteriorated even further.

The situation at King Edward VIII is a glaring example of what happens when you have an MEC who doesn’t know what’s happening half the time. As with so many earlier crises, it is now left to the DA and, in this case, the portfolio committee to pick up the pieces and try to prevent a very serious scenario.

As even KZN Premier, Willies Mchunu, refuses to hold MEC Dhlomo to account it is now up to the people of KZN to do so at the ballot box next year. KZN needs total change, not an MEC who continues to show that he simply couldn’t care less.

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