Durban - Uncertainty over possible closure of Durban's 103-year-old McCord Hospital prompted a staff picket on Thursday.
The protesting staff, mostly members of the National Education Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu), carried banners that read "Yes to DOH [Department of Health]" and "No to Closure".
The hospital was slated for closure earlier this year after the department opted not to renew its annual subsidy.
At the end of January, health MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo announced that the department had offered to take over the hospital and this had been accepted by the hospital board.
However, on Thursday, the MEC's spokesperson Sam Mkhwanazi said negotiations had taken place. There was an agreement "awaiting to be signed to effect the take-over of McCord Hospital by the provincial government by September 2013."
The Daily News reported that staff received an email saying the hospital would be closed at the end of August.
It quoted an unnamed senior manager at the hospital saying negotiations had broken down due to the high price being demanded by the hospital board.
East Coast radio reported that it was in possession of a letter allegedly issued to staff claiming that no agreement had been reached with the department.
Comment could not be obtained from the hospital management and enquiries were referred to their lawyer Andrew Findley, who did not answer his phone.
Nehawu secretary Zola Saphetha could also not be reached for comment.
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