MASERU — Nurses and nursing assistants at Queen Elizabeth II Hospital, Lesotho’s only referral hospital, on Tuesday downed tools in protest against their poor working conditions and wages.
Services came to a standstill on Tuesday morning as nurses and their assistants gathered at the hospital’s main gate demanding that their grievances be addressed before they resume work.
Only a handful of nurses and their assistants continued working.
“We are nurses not slaves,” said one of the placards that the protesters held.
“We need money not peanuts,” said another placard.
Other placards talked about poor working conditions.
“How are we expected to work when there is no equipment and medication.”
“The patients are cold,” read another placard.
The nurses said they wanted the hospital management and the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare to address their grievances urgently.
They said they had given the management and the government enough time to address their grievances which they said they raised as far back as last June.
Now, the nurses said, they have had enough.
“Enough is enough. It is close to a year now since we gave the management and the ministry our grievances,” said a male nurse who refused to be named for fear of victimisation.
“They just calmed us and promised to address our problems. To date nothing has been done. Our working conditions are as bad as they were before. We still earn peanuts,” he said.
The nurses said they were overworked.
“We are over-loaded with work. One nurse is forced to attend to about 50 or more patients. That is unacceptable,” the nurse said.
“Night duties are even worse. Nurses are left all alone with patients in over-crowded wards.