There needs to be tighter security measures at hospitals following the killing of a doctor in Mpumalanga, Parliament said on Wednesday.
“The department of health needs to further tighten its security measures, to ensure that all healthcare workers feel safe,” chairman of Parliament’s portfolio committee on health Dr Bevan Goqwana said in a statement.
“There are huge shortages in the rural areas when it comes to doctors, and the department is battling in attracting doctors to work in rural areas, and his death will make other doctors to be reluctant in working in rural areas.”
He said there were many other incidents which showed that security needed to be beefed up at public health facilities.
A 32-year-old patient allegedly stabbed Dr Senzosenkosi Mkhize in the chest, and stabbed the wrist of a security guard who tried to intervene, on Tuesday.
Mkhize was working in the out-patient department, where the patient had gone for a follow-up consultation.
The guard was admitted to the same hospital in a stable condition. Mkhize was transferred to a nearby private hospital in a critical condition and died later in the day.
The patient fled the scene and was still at large.
Goqwana said more focus needed to put on mentally ill patients.
“The department needs to find a way in which all the mentally patients are collected from the streets and are given treatment, without infringing their rights.” he said.
The portfolio committee would monitor the health department to make sure security was heightened.
The Mpumalanga provincial government on Wednesday said security at all health facilities would be reviewed.
Mpumalanga premier David Mabuza said provincial health minister Dikeledi Mahlangu, provincial education minister Reginah Mhaule, provincial safety and security minister Vusimuzi Shongwe and provincial public works minister Clifford Mkansi would chart a process to review security at health facilities in the province.
The Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) said on Wednesday the news of Mkhize’s killing was horrific.
Acting CEO Marella O’Reilly said the safety of health practitioners was an ongoing concern by the regulator. Incidents like these were forcing health practitioners overseas, she said.
Shongwe said security guards must search everyone entering a state institution, including hospitals, to make sure they were not carrying weapons.
“Through our security management officials, the department will also establish how the suspect gained entry to the hospital with a knife, without the security guards detecting him, and steps should be taken against those guards who failed to perform their duties as required,” he said.
The Police and Prisons Civil Rights’ Union (Popcru), Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (Denosa) and National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) were shocked and angered by the killing.
The unions blamed the lack of security and poorly trained guards for the incident.
Denosa spokesperson Asanda Fongqo said: “As Denosa we are concerned by the safety and security of healthcare workers in the province as this is not an isolated incident, this issue needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency if we are to overhaul our health system.”
“It is unfortunate that our hospitals have been turned into warzones where people do not feel safe because of government’s ill-conceived policy of privatisation and outsourcing,” Nehawu spokesperson Sizwe Pamla said. — Sapa