Nurses sit at home despite staff shortages
Durban - MORE than 600 qualified nurses, trained through the Health Department and who have completed their community service learning are sitting at home doing nothing, while public hospitals and clinics struggle with staff shortages.
This is according to nursing unions, who say the nurses had signed contracts with the department for a guaranteed four years of work upon completion of the course. They said the latest batch of nurses, who completed their studies last month, added to the backlog of nurses that the department had failed to absorb into the system, apparently due to a lack of funds.
The unions have painted a gloomy picture of the state of public hospitals, saying some medical claims against the department are due to health facilities being overcrowded and operating on skeleton staff.
Figures released by the department last year show that during the 2018/19 financial year, a total of 450 new medico-legal claims were lodged, amounting to about R427million.
The Demoratic Nurses Organisation of SA (Denosa) said a group of 255 nurses completed their four-year course and additional one year of community service last month. They joined the existing backlog of 80 nurses still waiting for placement from 2018.
Denosa provincial secretary Mandla Shabangu said only vacant doctors’ and professional nurses’ posts were to be filled. The department’s programme to train nurses was a good initiative but it was now producing more nurses without jobs, he said. “The department has not fulfilled its contractual obligation that these nurses would be absorbed.”
A stakeholders meeting is scheduled for February 1 to discuss a way forward. The department had not commented by the time of publication.