The consequences of hospital revitalisation on staff safety and wellness

19 Jul 2017

Background: The proposed National Health Insurance strategy is driving health facility upgrades in South Africa. The impact of this on healthcare workers is largely unknown. The objective of this study was to describe the consequences of the Hospital Revitalisation Programme implementation at Paarl Hospital on staff. Methods: This was a descriptive qualitative study. The occupational health register, meeting minutes, photographs of infrastructural construction activities, safety and security statistics, staff satisfaction surveys, and staff wellness programme reports were reviewed for the duration of the project implementation. Twelve interviews with purposively sampled individuals and two focus groups with conveniently sampled health facility staff were conducted. Results: Implementation plans and manuals lacked a comprehensive risk management strategy for application of occupational health and safety legislation. Results showed an increase in safety and security incidents as well as workplace physical injuries of hospital staff linked to construction activities. The data revealed lower staff morale and associated absenteeism. Conclusion: Hospital revitalisation can give rise to mistakes at the cost of staff safety and wellness, and places staff at risk for low morale, workplace injuries and increased absenteeism. Establishment of a comprehensive occupational health and safety service in the planning stage of the revitalisation, with strong site management and an integrated staff wellness programme, is recommended.