2008-04-06 : Violent crime stalks nurses and doctors

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2008-04-06 : Violent crime stalks nurses and doctors

Postby GOSA » Fri, 2008-05-16 10:53

Violent crime stalks nurses and doctors
Francois Rank Published:Apr 06, 2008

Perilous times in SA hospitals

South African doctors and nurses are working in fear, as
criminals make hospitals their new hunting ground.

Hospital staff around the country have been held up at gunpoint
in hospital elevators, and some have been attacked by knife-
wielding thugs.

Last week, the Gauteng Health Department announced it would be
providing a R40-million cash injection to boost security at
Johannesburg Hospital.

The hospital, which houses 1088 beds and employs more than 4000
people, has effectively been turned into a fortress where all
but one of its entrances have been closed to the public and
staff after two attacks on doctors this year.

Hospital chief executive Sagie Pillay said: "Obviously this is
of great concern to me and to the management team. If crime is
going to start entering hospitals I am not sure where all of
this is going to stop."

On March 23, a senior doctor at the hospital was attacked as he
was coming off the night shift.

The doctor´s attacker held a gun to his head and robbed him of
his cellphone and wallet in a hospital lift at 3am. The
terrified doctor refused to speak to the Sunday Times about his

"I am just trying to forget about it and move on and the more we
talk about it the more I remember it," he said.

Doris Khalil, the nursing professor at the University of Cape
Town´s health sciences department has just completed research
into violence against nurses in the Western Cape.

Khalil questioned 471 nurses across eight major hospitals in the
Western Cape. Of those surveyed, 202 were general nurses, 148
were psychiatric nurses, 90 were midwives and 31 were paediatric

Her research revealed that 30% of the general nurses, 22% of the
midwives, 54% of the psychiatric nurses and 13% of the
paediatric nurses surveyed had suffered actual assaults while on

It also showed that 20% of general nurses, 11% of midwives, 16%
of psychiatric nurses and 19% of paediatric nurses suffered from
panic attacks as a result of violence or the threat thereof at

A snapshot of attacks on medical staff includes:

# On February 23 a nurse was raped in her room at the Sekororo
Hospital village in Limpopo after being stabbed in the head with
a screwdriver by her attacker;

# In July last year a young student doctor was raped at Chris
Hani Baragwanath Hospital while walking back from the blood bank
on the hospital grounds;

# On October 22 at the Seshego Hospital, Limpopo, Samson Tsamago
shot and killed four hospital managers, including the hospital
chief executive, after overpowering a security guard and
stealing his gun; and

# In July 2007, a young doctor was stabbed and robbed in broad
daylight as she was getting out of her car at Dora Nginza
Hospital in Port Elizabeth.

The Association of Surgeons of SA, in a letter to the Department
of Health, also reported that an intern at Pretoria Academic
Hospital was raped in the past year and that there were at least
two attempted rapes at King Edward VIII Hospital Durban.

Medical associations say they have asked the government to
address their security concerns but, as yet, little has been

In Limpopo last month, the Democratic Nurses Organisation of
South Africa (Denosa) handed over a memorandum to the provincial
department of health, demanding an improvement in the standard
of security at hospitals and clinics in the wake of three
separate attacks on nurses in the past two months.

In December the Association of Surgeons of South Africa sent a
letter expressing its concern about attacks on doctors at
hospitals to health director- general Thami Mseleku.

Chairman of the Association of Surgeons of SA, Dr Sats Pillay,
said the letter, sent in December, was prompted by the Dora
Nginza attack because it was not an isolated incident.

The association has had no word from the department to date,
Pillay said.

National health spokesman Sibani Mngadi said the National Health
Council had discussed the challenges posed by crime in its first
meeting in January.

" (The council) resolved that provincial health departments
should ensure that security companies hired at hospitals provide
effective service, including adequate access control, to prevent
the entry of weapons and the loss of hospital property."
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