Workers at the Free State Psychiatric Complex in Bloemfontein have accused the provincial health department of not adhering to COVID-19 protocols.

19 mental health patients and 15 staff members at the facility have contracted the virus.

Healthcare was disrupted when these staffers, including nurses and general workers, downed tools. They claim victimisation if they complain about working conditions.

The workers who were tested, were allegedly forced to come to work while awaiting results and infected patients are still allegedly attended to by these workers.

One of the nurses, named Mmabatho Mosaqa said:

If your results are positive, how many staff and patients would you have infected by that time you are still going to work.”

Another nurse, Khosi Motsumi said:

In the ward I am working in, there are patients that are confirmed positive and they can’t be isolated.”

National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) said infections at this hospital are likely to rise. The Chairperson said authorities are not following COVID-19 protocols.

Daniel Kolomba, Nehawu Branch Chairperson said:

There is no deep cleaning. In terms of cleaning the area by fumigating in a different way, those things are not happening at Free State Psychiatrist Complex. Cleaners also fear to go into those wards.”

Free State Health Department said it is engaging unions and management to resolve the matter.

Mondli Mvambi, Spokesperson for the Free State Health Department said:

The strike was unfortunate but as a department, we are engaging management and unions because we care for our workers.”

It was reported that health workers at a number of hospitals in the province have accused the department of neglecting them.