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Phaahla: Military healthcare workers to return to base once hospitals stabilise

Several healthcare facilities around the country’s operations were disrupted by the ongoing Nehawu wage strike, with military healthcare services stepping in to make up for the staff shortage.

FILE: SANDF troops were deployed to the Thelle Mogoerane Hospital in Vosloorus and other hospitals in Gauteng where Nehawu members have been striking. Picture: Kgomotso Modise/Eyewitness News

JOHANNESBURG – Minister of Health Joe Phaahla said military healthcare workers would return to their base once stability was restored at distressed health facilities around the country.

The minister gave an update on the country’s healthcare facilities on Monday night, following industrial action by healthcare workers affiliated to National Education, Health, and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu).


Their members went on strike last week over a wage dispute with government.

The union wanted a 10% wage increase, but government was offering a 4.7% increase.

Health facilities were affected, and many patients were left stranded and unable to receive medical attention.

The department requested assistance from the military’s healthcare services to make up for the staff shortage.

Phaahla said contingency staff would vacate their posts once health facilities were able to operate independently.

“How long will depend on the need and as soon as the situation stabilises. We thank them and indicate [to their] leadership through the Minister of Defence that they can retreat to the area where they are based, which is in the military hospitals or their barracks.”

Phaahla said this had been the process since their deployment.

“We have already seen that happening in Klerksdorp. They were there for two days. Once a significant number of normal personnel, especially nursing staff, returned, we requested that the place is stable.

“So, the same thing will happen currently in Gauteng, Thelle Mogoerane. Some were earmarked to assist at Sebokeng Hospital… Once there’s stability, those military health personnel will move on,” Phaahla said.



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