This morning the Cape High Court granted an interim interdict ordering the Western Cape Provincial government and the Ministers of Health and Public Works and Administration to restore the reasonable functioning of health care services in Khayelitsha. It found that they acted unconstitutionally by violating the rights of patients and TAC who act in the interests of patients and upheld the evidence of doctors and nurses who work in Khayelitsha that service provision has been affected because of the dismissals.
Judge Desai found that the dismissals in Khayelitsha disrupted the delivery of health services and that this constituted a violation of the constitutional right to access to health care services.
Judge Desai upheld the evidence of doctors and nurses presented to the court by the TAC and the patients in this matter. The court also ordered the respondents to return to court on the 20th of August 2007 to show why they should not be ordered to restore the reasonable functioning of health services in Khayelitsha.
This is an important victory for the people of Khayelitsha. This is because the Court has found that the Respondents acted unconstitutionally and unlawfully by acting without a contingency plan – in other words, they dismissed workers without a contingency plan leading to a disruption of health services in Khayelitsha.
The only reasonable way for government to restore services and implement the court order is to reinstate the dismissed workers. TAC appeals to government to do this immediately.
Tomorrow morning, dismissed workers of Site B health facility will report to work. TAC will accompany them and offer to volunteer in the facility.
For more information please contact Zackie Achmat (care of 082 516 8873), Mandla Majola (082 748 8371) and Fatima Hassan (083 27 999 62).
TAC thanks Fatima Hassan of the AIDS Law Project and its counsel, Peter Hodes, Anton Katz and Nazreen Bawa.
Numerous people, too many to mention, volunteered with this urgent application.
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Health services in the Western Cape and specifically in Khayelitsha continue to fail to meet the enormous health needs of its people. The terrible queues, unacceptably long waiting times for hospital beds and delayed operations have been highlighted in recent months. They depict an ongoing life and death crisis in health care.
For some years, the Department of Health in the Western Cape has promised the people of Khayelitsha a new hospital. This promise was welcomed as the need for additional centres to relieve the tremendous pressure on existing hospitals is urgent. However, we have still not seen any evidence that this hospital will be built now or in the near future.
Instead, the Department has cut the budgets of Groote Schuur and Tygerberg hospitals (total R56 million). These hospitals belong to the people of Cape Town and are used primarily by the poor of this city. People from Khayelitsha depend on these services and form a high percentage of the patients in these two hospitals.
We are inviting the Department of Health to our meeting to:
inform us of progress on the building of the Khayelitsha Hospital,
explain why community, trade union and health worker protests against the budget cuts at tertiary hospitals have been ignored and
address the staffing crisis in our community clinics.
Here are the details of the meeting:
Date: Wednesday 27 June 2007
Venue: Site B Community Hall, Khayelitsha
Vuyiseka Dubula 082 763 3005
Lydia Cairncross 082 786 7014