Nurses employed at public hospitals who continue to moonlight at private hospitals will soon have to answer for their actions, Public Service Minister Lindiwe Sisulu has warned.
“We are going to tighten our rules and regulations and, by the end of this year, if any nurse is still moonlighting she had better be able to explain it,” she said yesterday.
Sisulu was addressing hundreds of health care workers at Durban’s Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre at this year’s South African Nurses Conference.
She recalled a recent interview with a state-employed nurse who was moonlighting without permission.
“She was certain she wasn’t contravening any regulations, but said she was taking time owed to her by the state to augment her salary.”
“Sick or not” she was taking all her sick leave, additional incapacity leave, half her annual leave and half her maternity leave and working at a private hospital during this time.
“As a woman you are entitled to maternity leave but the regulations don’t say you are entitled to it once a year, they just say you are entitled to it.”
Sisulu said the country needed its nurses, in its hospitals, doing their jobs.
Absenteeism was a major problem. “And adequate controls aren’t in place to prevent abuse of the system.”
Incapacity leave and ill-health retirement benefits were particular problems. Minor ailments were presented as symptoms of major diseases to create the illusion that employees were seriously ill and needed time off.
The same doctors, clinics and hospitals were being used to book nurses off, indicating collaboration, the minister said. “And many recipients of ill health retirement benefits return to the job market.
“They are booked off, get their pensions, leave nursing and then, for example, go and teach,” she said. - The Mercury