DA requests Health Ombud to investigate assault of disabled boy

Issued by Michele Clarke MP – DA Shadow Minister of Health
04 Oct 2023 in News

Note to editors: Please find attached soundbite by Michele Clarke MP.

The DA will request the Health Ombud, Prof Taole Mokoena, to investigate the incident where two security guards assaulted a 13-year-old disabled patient at the Ladysmith Hospital in KwaZulu-Natal.

While the DA commends the swift action of the KZN Department of Health to dismiss the security guards and the implementation of internal disciplinary processes against implicated nursing staff, we believe the Ombud should determine whether this horrific assault is an isolated incident or part of a larger pattern of abuse at the hospital.

The DA will submit parliamentary questions (PQ) to determine the instances of patient abuse in all the provinces, as well as cases of patients abusing health care personnel.

In answer to a written PQ from the DA, the Minister of Health, Dr Joe Phaahla, revealed that more than 435 health care workers have suffered incidents of violence towards them at the hands of mental health patients since 2019, with 180 incidents in this year alone. This excludes incidents from Gauteng, Limpopo and the Northern Cape as these provinces failed to provide the requested information. The 123 incidents of assault in the Western Cape reflects all patient attacks on health care workers and are not limited to attacks by mental health care users in psychiatric hospitals.

It is very problematic that in most provinces the incidents of assault have increased. And while the Minister of Health indicated that protocols are in place, it is clear that safety is a growing concern, not only in mental health facilities or wards, but hospitals in general.

It is terrible that health facilities are struggling to ensure patients and staff are safe. If staff aren’t assaulted by patients, then patients suffer at the hands of staff. Hospitals are meant to be places of safety where patients receive the care they need, and staff can do their jobs without the threat of abuse.

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