As part of contingency plans to contain the impact of the work-to-rule by the Gauteng Department of Health Forensic Pathology Officers (FPOs), the South African Military Health Services has been roped in to assist with autopsies starting on Wednesday, 14 June 2017.
The military officials will be deployed in facilities that have been badly affected to clear backlogs, caused by the work-to-rule action, which started on 8 June 2017. MEC for Health, Dr Gwen Ramokgopa met with the families last week Friday at the Diepkloof centre, where FPOs had held staff hostage. Five autopsies were conducted and bodies released to the families.
Furthermore, MEC Ramokgopa interacted with the families on Tuesday and shared with them what the Department was doing to resolve the matter. She also shared with them the contingency plans to ensure they are not further inconvenienced so they can bury their loved ones.
"The Gauteng Department of Health main interest in this matter is to ensure that reasonable concerns of all staff are addressed and that services for the public resume as soon as possible," said MEC Ramokgopa.
After engagement with the FPOs, MEC Ramokgopa directed that their concerns be addressed amicably in the best interest of the bereaved families, the public and the law. She added that Department will do everything in its power to ensure bereaved families are assisted and supported, while engagements with FPOs continue.
Forensic Pathologists are available to perform autopsies, but they need assistance from FPOs with evisceration and dissections. The work-to-rule action has not only inconvenienced families who had travelled from far and wide to collect bodies of their loved ones for burials, but will also affect the justice system, which refers certain cases to pathology services further examinations.
At the Monday meeting with FPOs, the Department committed to the following demands:
- That counselling and debriefing Sessions will be reinstated for use by employees as needed;
- An audit of critical equipment and protective clothing will be conducted with immediate effect;
- The implementation of the danger allowance for qualifying employees will be effected; and
- Reversal of the Occupational Specific Dispensation (OSD) remuneration scales to pre-OSD salary scales.
Issued by the Gauteng Department of Health
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