The Safety of Doctors
For several years now, the South African Medical Association (SAMA) has highlighted the poor state of security, specifically of doctors working in public institutions. While the issue of protecting doctors in these institutions is of the greatest importance, incidents of violence continue unabated.
SAMA views the lack of provision of proper safety and security for doctors – indeed for all healthcare workers and patients as major stumbling block to the provision of quality healthcare to all citizens. SAMA also highlights some of the more recent incidents involving doctors since 2018.
· Break-in at Temba Hospital's Doctors' Quarters.
· Doctors assaulted at Witbank Hospital
· Dr survived a gunshot at Mapulaneng Hospital
These incidents were reported to the Head of Department of the Mpumalanga Department Health. Subsequent to this, a meeting was held with the HoD in May 2018 which resulted in the employment of armed security personnel at these hospitals.
· Attempted rape at Pelonomi Hospital. An intern doctor was almost raped by a patient, who was arrested. As with the incidents in 2018, SAMA met representatives from the department which resulted in tighter security measures. SAMA also offered support to the doctor which included making sure that counselling was provided for her by the department.
· Theft of motor vehicle and general concerns about safety at the Universitas Hospital Doctors Quarters in Bloemfontein;
· Shooting of patient at Kimberley Hospital.
· Two doctors and a patient stabbed at Kimberley Hospital;
· Complaints of poor safety at clinics in Cape Town at Weltevreden Valley Clinic in Samora Machel, the Mzamomhle
Clinic Browns Farm, and the Crossroads Community Health Clinic;
· Recent incident at Lilian Ngoyi Healthcare Centre.
While the country heads towards Local Government elections in November, SAMA is concerned that the security issues faced by doctors falls under the radar. It is for this reason that SAMA continues to highlight the issues of security, and continues to push both national and provincial governments to increase their levels of security at public institutions so that those trained to care for patients are able to do so knowing their safety is protected.
SAMA recommends the following
1) Institutions should appoint trained and qualified security staff that are dressed in identifiable security uniform;
2) Recording and documentation of persons coming in and out of each institution, including doctors that are staying in staff quarters;
3) Installation of boom gates at parking areas
4) Access cards to all staff;
5) Improvement of lighting outside parking areas;
6) Mobile security guards 24 hours a day;
7) Installation of burglar bars and gates at all health facilities;
8) Provision of panic buttons at all facilities;
9) Installation of CCTV cameras at all facilities.
SAMA's rights remains reserved on failure by the department to implement stricter security measures which are in any case mandatory as provided for in the Occupational Health and Safety Act 85 of 1993.