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strike thumb medium85 85The Star reports that a new mother was among a large number of patients who were barred from either entering or leaving Leratong Hospital due to a strike over staff shortages and alleged nepotism.

Ambulances and patients were turned away at the main entrance as hospital workers, including doctors, nurses and support staff, protested. Their grievances included the alleged “selling” of posts at the hospital on the West Rand.

Staff on night shift on Monday were locked inside the institution.

The new mother, who asked not to be named, said she had given birth at the hospital two days before. She and her baby boy had been discharged, but the child needed to be readmitted for further observation.

“It was stressful (giving birth) and I was delighted when the doctor discharged us.

“I could not wait to get home. As we were about to leave at about 8am, we were told that there was a strike and no one was allowed to come in or leave,” she said.

“We have been sitting outside, waiting to leave, for hours now. I haven’t had a proper meal all day.”

Twitter user @funo_deluxe, who was worried about her mother, who worked night shift on Monday, posted: “My mother went to work last night (Monday) at Leratong Hospital and she hasn’t returned home because there is a strike happening, and they are locked inside the hospital.”

Hospital spokesperson Fikile Oyekanmi said the strike started in the morning, adding that it would not continue today, as hospital management had met with unions to discuss staff grievances.

She said the hospital had more than 1 700 employees.

“Some staff members were inside the premises, helping in the wards. There were patients who were denied access at a certain time and obviously, because there were fewer staff working, we wouldn’t have performed like we normally do.

“There haven’t been any reports of anything drastic happening,” added Oyekanmi.

She confirmed that allegations had been made that posts at the hospital were being sold.

The Star understands that workers are frustrated after posts that were advertised late last year were frozen.

Kagiso police spokesperson Captain Solomon Sibiya dismissed reports of a hostage situation at the hospital. “The workers are protesting peacefully. There was no violence reported but police monitored the situation.”

The original of this report by Sibingile Mashaba appeared on page 2 of The Star of 6 February 2019

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