The recent public servants’ strike has disrupted the studies of Tuks medical students.

The strike which started about three weeks ago was still going on at the time of print as the workers’ unions, which include Cosatu and its affi liates, have refused the 7.5% wage increase offered to them by the government.

The strikers include nurses and other essential public service workers. “The strike has affected all the medical students differently. At Kalafong Hospital in Atteridgeville some students missed out completely with rotating through a department, for example Urology (which is supposed to be for two weeks). “We were supposed to be at Weskoppies Psychiatry Hospital for a seven-week rotation but have only had about one week,” said a fifth-year Tuks medical student who did not want to be named.

“The strike has gotten ugly and many feel it is disgusting that “caring” nurses are capable of such patient neglect and behaviour. As for fellow medics, there have been death and rape threats to the “snakes” still working (hidden) in the Hospitals,” said the unnamed student.

Fifth-year MBChB SIC student, Deirdre Muller, said, “I am a student intern busy with my psychiatry rotation at Weskoppies Hospital. Since the strike started we have not been able to continue with our clinical rotation at the hospital and have had to go to campus for lectures until the strike clears up. The lectures are of great use but cannot make up for three weeks of lost clinical experience.”

“The strike started being a problem for me personally from the day it started. We were blocked at the entrance of the hospital and were prevented from entering the premises. Since then we were able to return on Tuesday but due to threats and safety matters we had to leave the hospital within a couple of hours after arriving.

The one day I was able to spend at the hospital was fi lled with anguish, the nursing staff that were working were extremely scared and they locked themselves up for fear of being attacked,” said Muller. Mrs Marinda Scholtz from the Dean’s offi ce said that the strike has not caused major problems for the medical students’ studies. Scholtz added, “Most of the students would like the strike to end so they can start seeing patients and learn practically. We are surviving and the University is doing an excellent job at managing the chaos.”

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