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Nurses protest over alleged terminated contracts by the Western Cape Health Department

Nurses demonstrated in front of the legislature after their contracts were allegedly terminated due to delayed nursing membership certificates issued by the SA Nursing Council. Picture: Mthuthuzeli Ntseku/Cape Argus

Nurses demonstrated in front of the legislature after their contracts were allegedly terminated due to delayed nursing membership certificates issued by the SA Nursing Council. Picture: Mthuthuzeli Ntseku/Cape Argus

Published Mar 15, 2022

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Cape Town - A group of post-community nursing practitioners supported by the EFF’s Labour Desk held a picket in front of the legislature on Monday over the alleged termination of contracts by the Health Department due to delayed nursing membership certificates issued by the SA Nursing Council (SANC).

The professional nurses said the department had previously granted them employment only on submission of receipts, but this was suddenly rejected.

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This was despite the department being aware of the turnaround times for issuing of certificates by the council; instead it now issued a declaration to labour brokers not to hire them.

The practitioners are demanding immediate disqualification of the declaration issued to nursing agencies and permanent employment for all post-nursing community service practitioners.

One of the nurses, who asked not to be named, said that last year more than 120 professional nurses who were doing their community service at various hospitals had registered with the SANC for accreditation.

“This year, when we’re supposed to be practising as professional nurses, our contracts got terminated and the department declared to nursing agencies that we can’t practise because we are not registered as professional nurses, barring us from working.

“The certificate takes three to four months to be issued, meaning that in that period we are not able to practise as the department since recently does not regard proof of payment as evidence that you have applied to be registered.”

EFF labour desk leader Nosipho Makamba Botya said the department’s move was a demonstration of its failure to serve communities.

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“The department did this without any reference to any change of policy, which is tantamount to worker exploitation. The black communities would at the end of the day be the ones that will suffer because these nurses were mostly serving in townships.

“The department is tampering with the human resources component of which there is a massive shortage in the health sector at large,” Botya said.

Health Department spokesperson Mark van der Heever said the practitioners completed their community service on January 31 and on completion of the community service period the contract of employment with the department lapsed.

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“It is important to note that the department has undertaken a position based on departmental internal policies to make a special concession to appoint nurses who have applied for a position within the department and are qualified and waiting for registration with SANC,” he said.

Van der Heever said the employed nurses applied individually upon completion of community service within the department and outside the department.

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