According to National Education Health and Allied Workers' Union (Nehawu), an interim court interdict to stop McCord Hospital from closing down has been granted but others say this is "nonsense". The interdict that Nehawu claims the Labour Court in Durban granted on Tuesday is highly contested.
Nehawu's KwaZulu-Natal secretary Zola Saphetha said the interdict will temporarily stop McCord Hospital in Durban's board from closing down the facility and retrenching staff.
The chairperson of the board at McCord Hospital, Paulus Zulu, however said Saphetha was talking nonsense. "There is no interdict which has been granted, the matter has been postponed to November 6," he said.
Both parties will hold press conferences on the issue on Wednesday. KwaZulu-Natal health MEC, Sibongiseni Dhlomo, is also expected to make an announcement on the future of McCord.
According to Saphetha, the court has given the hospital's board until October 1 to oppose the interdict. He said on October 3 the court would grant staff the opportunity to state why the interdict should remain.
"On October 7 McCord [the board] will get a chance [to] present their case for the closure of the hospital and the judge will then make a final ruling on October 9," said Saphetha.
According to Saphetha, the hospital's emergency ward will remain open until "the final ruling has been made".
Staff at McCord Hospital have continued to provide emergency medical care to patients despite the board's decision to shut the hospital down last Friday. The facility faced financial difficulty after donor funding from the United States ended in 2012. McCord Hospital is a private facility, which operates as a non-profit organisation, and is largely dependent on grants as it charges minimal hospital fees. The situation worsened when the KwaZulu-Natal health department announced earlier this year that it would no longer continue with the financial assistance that it's been providing the hospital with.
The closure comes after a failed bid by the department to buy the 104-year-old McCord and run it as a public hospital.
Jay Mannie, the medical manager at the hospital, earlier accused the board of wanting to convert the hospital's nursing colleges and residences into private facilities. This, Zulu said, "is a lie".
"When you say something like this you need to provide minutes of the meetings where this resolution was passed," said Zulu. "This is nothing but blackmail. Mannie is on a blackmail mission, but that will be settled in due course. First we must sort out the issue of McCord."