Durban – KZN Health MEC Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu said the department was not throwing out nurses from staff residences at Wentworth and King Edward VIII hospitals to make them “destitute”.
Speaking during a media briefing yesterday, Simelane-Zulu responded to allegations made by unions, that more than 50 nurses living at the Wentworth and King Edward VIII Hospital residences had been handed eviction notices – apparently to make way for South African doctors expected to return home after completing their training in Cuba.
The Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (Denosa) in KwaZulu-Natal last week vowed to take legal action against the provincial Department of Health.
Nurses were handed eviction notices in June and have been told to move out before October 1.
Simelane-Zulu said the department’s managers had embarked on an assessment of health facilities’ accommodation last year.
She said the head of the department was dealing with the matter.
Simelane-Zulu said the accommodation had been provided for a specific time, according to a lease agreement.
She said the accommodation was supposed to be used for nurses and doctors who could show the hospital was far from their homes and that it would be expensive for them to commute.
However, she said, at some hospitals, there were people still staying there who no longer worked at the facilities.
“If you get a job elsewhere, you relinquish your rights at that facility and move to another facility.
“In other facilities, there are health workers living there for 12 years, and some are retired and are living in these facilities.”
She said the department was checking contracts to establish who should still have access to the accommodation.
While the MEC did not specify who the accommodation at the two hospitals was earmarked for, she said: “There are young nurses and doctors who get into the system who need the accommodation but they can’t move because someone has insisted on being in the accommodation for 10 years, simply because they don’t want to pay market-related rent.
“It’s not that we are throwing people out to be destitute.”