Nurses at Nelson Mandela Academic Hospital are back at work after being involved in a hostage drama at the weekend when they locked two hospital managers in a boardroom over a night duty allowance dispute.
The protesting nurses received an ultimatum threatening them with dismissal if they did not return to work on Sunday. Work at the Mthatha public health facility came to a standstill on Friday and about 20 patients were transferred to nearby hospitals in East London and Mount Frere.
Provincial health department spokesperson Sizwe Kupelo said the protest began after the nurses found that a list of staffers eligible for the allowance had been submitted along with the names of people who should not get it.
“The list was a fraud. There were names of people who were on leave at the time,” said Kupelo. When the nurses were told that they would not be paid, it triggered an angry response with officials locked in the boardroom and nurses who were on duty at the time ordered to leave the wards.
Kupelo said nurses in the maternity and intensive care units remained on duty. “All nurses have reported for work, including those are on night shift,” Kupelo said.