Two KwaZulu-Natal nurses have been suspended after they allegedly ignored a woman in labour, the provincial Department of Health said on Tuesday. The woman eventually lost her child.
“The nurses were placed on special leave on Sunday, and yesterday they received letters notifying them of their suspension pending the finalisation of a formal investigation,” Health MEC Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu said in a statement.
The MEC said the nurses based at St Mary’s Hospital in Durban allegedly ignored the woman and told her to let them know when the baby was born.
“The woman, who was eventually assisted with the birth by other patients in the ward, reportedly had her pleas for help ignored, and was instead allegedly told by nurses on duty to ‘let us know once the baby starts crying’.”
The premature baby died on Saturday around eight hours after being placed in an incubator after being born on Friday.
Simelane-Zulu said the mistreatment of patients would not be tolerated and warned health officials to adhere to their prescribed oaths.
“I have said this before, and I will say it again – there is no space in this department for anyone who wants to involve themselves in any kind of misconduct, not least of which is disrespect for our fellow compatriots who come to our facilities out of a desperate need for help.”
She urged healthcare workers to do better for the public.
“It is the job of healthcare professionals to provide care, support and overall nursing so that people who come to us because they have nowhere to go, can overcome whatever ailment they are suffering from.”
Simelane-Zulu said what occurred at the hospital “goes against everything that this administration stands for”.
“[We] have respect for patients and prioritise their needs. Therefore, we expect the accounting officer to investigate and take the necessary disciplinary action when such things happen.”