Cape Town – Western Cape health workers have raised concerns about lax security at government buildings that fall outside the city centre.
Health and Other Services Personnel Trade Union of SA (Hospersa) provincial secretary Martinique Marinus said several issues affected health workers.
Marinus said chief among workers’ grievances was their safety at the workplace in light of a patient being killed at the hands of another at Karl Bremer Hospital earlier this month.
The killing was reportedly carried out with a sharp and heavy object.
The Health Department Safety Unit recently reported 92 assault incidents that had taken place across provincial health facilities between April and June 2022.
Marinus said the health facilities in the city centre were safer than the rest across the province. Marinus said the Karl Bremer Hospital incident and several others would not have taken place if the hospital were in the CBD.
The Public Service Commission last month shone the light on an incident where a teenager was allegedly raped by a fellow patient in a psychiatric ward at the Stellenbosch Provincial Hospital.
Asked whether the department had a plan to beef-up security at its facilities, Health Department spokesperson Mark van der Heever said: “First and foremost, a healthcare facility is a place of healing, not a prison.
“As such the security function at health facilities is mainly to facilitate perimeter and access control. Patient-on-patient attacks in hospital are unforeseen and unfortunate.”
Van der Heever said the department understood concerns about safety and continually reviewed security, but he stressed that health facilities should not be seen as an opportunity for criminality.
“We need our communities to work with us in spreading this message. If society takes this to heart and do not engage in criminal activity while at a health facility, we would not need to have security guards to ensure safety,” he said.
Van der Heever said a majority of the department’s facilities had CCTV cameras and were risk-rated for prioritisation of CCTV cameras, while smaller health facilities were installed with panic button systems and had security officers and support from local SAPS.
“The required security personnel and measures at a particular facility, whether within the metro or in the rural, is totally dependent on the size of the facility, its operational times, the physical layout of the facility, the location of the facility and the available health services provided,” he said.