Nurses’ ‘go slow’ hits patients

Nurses’ ‘go slow’ hits patients

MASERU – ’Mantoa Tlali is writhing in pain. She has been sitting on the bench at Queen ’Mamohato Memorial Hospital for hours without getting any assistance. “Ever since I arrived here at dawn I have not seen a doctor and there is no explanation from anybody in the hospital,” she says.
Tlali, who is from Thaba-Bosiu about 20km east of Maseru, says she regrets coming to the hospital in the first place.
Over the past three weeks, Tlali has suffered from severe chest pains. Last week, she saw a nurse at her local clinic but there was still no change.
She then asked the nurse to write her a referral letter to the hospital.

However, her hopes of getting any help at Queen ’Mamohato Memorial Hospital were dashed after nurses embarked on a go-slow.
She was among thousands of patients who were forced to wait for hours in the queue without being attended to.
“I am going back home without getting any help. Maybe I am going home to die of chest pains which could have been treated had the nurses not been on strike,” she says.

Keresemese Moliela, from Mokhotlong, was with his aunt at Queen Mamohato. She too battled to receive any services from nurses this week.
Moliela told thepost that his aunt was transferred to the hospital and was hoping she would be quickly attended to by doctors and nurses.
He now fears his aunt’s condition might deteriorate if the nurses continue dragging their feet.

“I don’t know exactly what my aunt is suffering from but all I know is that she has stomach pains and she is likely to be operated on,” Moliela says.
“If it is within your power, please tell the Prime Minister to stop the strike or else patients will die.”
The nurses say they are on a “go-slow” in protest over the hospital management’s refusal to increase their salaries.
The nurses are demanding a M5000 salary increase.

Some of the nurses told thepost this week that they will drag their feet until the management meets their demands.
What seems to have irked the nurses was a decision by the management to award a M5000 salary raise to pharmacists while denying a similar increase to nurses.

“We were told that there are no pharmacy schools in the country and there is scarcity of pharmacists hence they are given special treatment,” a nurse said. “The management said they want to retain the pharmacists they have. As for us, we are so many that the management can recruit new nurses tomorrow.”

The Lesotho Workers Association (LEWA) organiser, Masupha Moeketsi, said the union’s representatives had held several meetings with the hospital’s management over the nurses’ grievances but the meetings have failed to bear any fruits. “The management is adamant that the nurses’ salaries will not be increased,” Moeketsi said.

“The nurses opted to go on a “go slow” as one of the means to signal to the management that they are not as redundant as they think they are,” he said.
“They are still worthy like their pharmacist counterparts.” Moeketsi said they went to the hospital “immediately after we were informed of the nurses’ intention to slow down, but very unfortunately the management did not want to talk to us”.

He said the union was appalled by the hospital’s stance to increase salaries for pharmacists while ignoring the nurses’ demands.
Moeketsi said the hospital management had allegedly told the nurses that they are easily replaceable and the hospital was “not worried at all because there are so many nurses out there looking for jobs”.

Queen ’Mamohato Memorial Hospital belongs to the government but is run by Tšepong (Pty) Ltd, a consortium of companies under the public-private-partnership arrangement. The majority shareholder in Tšepong is Netcare, a South African-based health care company with similar deals in the United Kingdom.

The hospital management declined to comment. Ministry of Health spokesman Tumisang Mokoai said the government is doing all it can to resolve the matter. “Last week we were there to talk to the management because the worst part is that it affects people’s lives,” Mokoai said.
“This week we went to Tšepong again to continue talking to them. We are taking this seriously, we cannot ignore this matter.”

Thooe Ramolibeli

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