Disruption of healthcare is ’murder’ - Motsoaledi

Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi on Friday called the disruption of vital medical care by striking...

Striking health workers protest outside Rahima Moosa Mother & Child Hospital on 20 August, 2010. Picture: Taurai Maduna/Eyewitness News

Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi on Friday called the disruption of vital medical care by striking public sector workers as "murder".

Hospitals around the country have been disrupted in one form or another by protesting health workers.

An emotional Motsoaledi said he was angry at the protestors whose actions allowed people die.

“If there is a vulnerable person in an operating theatre and you get in there with some democratic right and that person dies, that’s murder,” he said.

He added, “There are rules of engagement and one of them is when health services stop getting respect they are willing to murder,” he said.

Meanwhile, the situation was calm at the Helen Joseph Hospital by late afternoon following protests in the morning.

Shortages of staff members at the facility has meant health workers are being asked to do additional jobs to keep services running.

Demonstrations outside the hospital were less chaotic than Thursday, but the intimidation of non-striking workers still continued and most hospital employees struggled to get inside the building.

Inside the facility, doctors were trying to cope despite the staff shortages but many volunteers arrived to help.

Non-striking staff said they would continue taking care of sick patients, despite being intimidated by protestors.

Meanwhile, volunteers and soldiers have heeded government’s call for help and assisted at the Natalspruit, Helen Joseph and Chris Hani Baragwanath hospitals on Friday afternoon.

Provincial spokesperson Mandla Sidu said it has not been necessary for authorities to move any more babies from state hospitals to private hospitals.

Some 53 premature babies were moved from Natalspruit hospital earlier this week. Two babies died at the hospital.

Sidu said their deaths cannot necessarily be linked to the strike, but did say that the babies had not been fed properly.

Even the Health Minister has pledged his weekend to helping to treat patients at the Chris Hani Baragwanath hospital.

“I’m not here to make a press statement and leave. I’m here to work. I’m here to dirty my hands for as long as they need me.”

Motsoaledi has clocked into a hospital for the first time in 16 years.

He said despite being out of the game for so long, he is more than capable of carrying out orders of other doctors at the hospital, and is still registered with the medical council.