KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) minister of health Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo has issued an ultimatum to striking doctors, calling on them to return to work on Friday or face the music.
Addressing the media in Durban on Friday, Dhlomo said notices had been sent to all hospitals calling on all striking doctors, dentists and pharmacists to resume their duties no later than 8am.
The department was also preparing a court interdict to force the striking health professionals to end the strike, he said.
”We as the department of health are designated as an essential service provider and therefore find the action of these health professionals is disrupting service delivery and compromising patients’ lives,” said Dhlomo.
He said the department had been more than reasonable in dealing with the unprotected strike.
”This situation is untenable, we cannot continue to put the lives of our people in danger and the government will act,” he said.
Dhlomo said people had died due to the unavailability of doctors, although he was unable give the number of people who died as a result of the strike.
The department of health had also received information from the National Intelligence Agency that the strike was no longer about salaries.
”It is becoming clearer that this strike action is deeper than what the eye can see. Here we have people who continue striking while their leaders or unions are busy discussing the offer that has been tabled.”
The strike over pay and working conditions started in KwaZulu-Natal four days ago and had crippled public health institutions in urban areas such as Durban and Pietermaritzburg.
Some doctors in other provinces had downed tools.
While the Congress of South African Trade Unions welcomed the pay offer announced by Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi on Wednesday, the striking doctors in KwaZulu-Natal had rejected it and not returned to work. — Sapa