Hospitals close as medics hit back

Yesterday, much as unionists promised, dozens of health care professionals, who have not been part of the ongoing public officers’ strike, joined the walkout in solidarity with their colleagues, and hospitals are now closing.

From Mahalapye reports that two specialist doctors and 26 nurses from Mahalapye Primary Hospital with placards reading, “An injury to one is an injury to all” yesterday downed tools to show solidarity with their ‘sacked’ striking colleagues, resulting in the closure of the hospital. There is also an unspecified number of support staff that have also joined the strike.

While he denied reports that the hospital had closed, Mahalapye Hospital Superintendent Kunal Bose confirmed that more doctors and nurses had joined their colleagues.  “The hospital is not closed … We have taken the necessary measures to arrest the situation..,” he said.[indeed] two specialist doctors from dental clinic and some of the nurses have also joined the strike,” he said, adding that while the hospital has been hard hit by the departure of the staff, everything would be done to keep it open. Bose said that the hospital management had assumed roles played by nurses, such as patient care and management.

He said that the hardest hit areas were the theatre department, surgical wards, maternity wards, dental clinic, paediatric ward, orthopaedic wards and the accidents and emergency department,” he said.  Bose said that the hospital would in the meantime make use of 30 student nurses as the need arises.

Meanwhile by late yesterday afternoon Princess Marina Hospital was almost devoid of nurses in all the wards. A few auxiliary staff remained with nothing to do as nurses and doctors joined their colleagues at the nearby Gaborone Secondary Senior School (GSSS) grounds. Speaking yesterday, a representative of the health workers said that they had mobilised nurses and doctors around and expect most of those who still remained working to join them today. Princess Marina, the country’s main referral hospital, could close if more nurses join the strike.

In Lobatse over 30 nurses and some doctors from the Sbrana Mental Hospital, previously not on strike, yesterday downed tools to show solidarity with their colleagues. The situation is set to worsen as more doctors and nurses and other essential services hospital from around the country are set to join the strike in solidarity with their ‘dismissed’ colleagues.

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