Essential workers in the time of Covid-19: Health workers complain about poor working conditions


Today is International Nurses Day, observed around the world every year to honour the contributions nurses make to society. Today is International Nurses Day, observed around the world every year to honour the contributions nurses make to society.
Image: Gallo images/Sowetan/Sandile Ndlovu

Health-care workers who spoke to Sowetan anonymously ahead of International Nurses Day today have lamented their working conditions in hospitals and clinics in Gauteng.

International Nurses Day is observed around the world every year to honour the contributions nurses make to society.

A nurse who works at a government hospital in Pretoria said after seven years in the health sector, there was little to celebrate.

"We are underpaid and working in times when we can die at any moment because we are essential workers during the Covid-19 pandemic," she said.

The nurse said her passion to help people was the only thing that has kept her in her job.

"We work with very sick people who come from different backgrounds.

"As essential workers we put our lives in danger, but we don't get a risk allowance or full personal protective equipment," said the nurse. Because of the shortage of staff at her hospital, she was forced to work extra shifts.

A nurse at a clinic in Daveyton on the East Rand said although she worked in a smaller facility she faced more pressure because of the many patients needing care.

"The clinic I work at caters for many people, and because there are mushrooming informal settlements everywhere, we never have enough staff," said the nurse, adding that the clinic experienced long queues and some people were turned away at closing time.

"We also have cases that cannot be accommodated at clinic level because our clinic is small and does not have facilities."






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