WC Health Dept refutes claims Groote Schuur doesn't have enough PPEs

Earlier this week, a group of nurses protested at the hospital over COVID-19 related health and safety concerns.

A general view of Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town. Picture: www.psychiatry.uct.ac.za

CAPE TOWN - The Western Cape Health Department has refuted claims it was not complying with COVID-19 regulations at Groote Schuur Hospital.

Earlier this week, a group of nurses protested at the hospital over COVID-19 related health and safety concerns.

The National Education, Health and Allied Workers' Union claimed management hadn't done enough to protect workers against COVID-19.

Among the union's grievances was that they said workers weren't given enough personal protective gear.

Head of provincial health Keith Cloete said this was untrue.

“There are masks, aprons, gloves and everything that is required. There is not a single department at Groote Schuur that has not got what the staff requires in order to be able to function. It is updated on a daily basis, there is no shortage.”

He said in 2019, Groote Schuur spent R2 million on personal protective equipment (PPE) for the entire year and in April and May this year, R11 million was spent.

“To say that there is no PPE and people are unprotected is not factually correct. The one thing that I do acknowledge in all of us is that people are anxious because the exposure is real and the fact that there are fellow staff members who become positive, is a reality.”

Another issue raised by the union was that when workers tested positive for the virus, they were told to not communicate that with coworkers.

Cloete said they had been transparent about the number of people infected and affected at facilities, but added that a person, including a health worker, also had the right to confidentiality.

“We still respect the individual confidentiality of the person that is positive to still making that call. That is their right whether they choose to disclose to somebody else. We have not, at any given times, identified individuals who have tested positive.”

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