File picture: Supplied
File picture: Supplied

KZN nurses dress in civvies after 'uniform allowance' bungle

By CHRIS NDALISO Time of article published Jul 13, 2017

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DURBAN - Patients in various KwaZulu-Natal public hospitals cannot identify a nurse from administration staff and fellow patients as nurses boycotted uniforms after the health department’s alleged failure to pay their uniform allowances on time.

The allowance should have been paid in April, but because of an administrative bungle, the department had made a verbal commitment on Monday to pay the allowance by the end of July.

However, a nurse at King George V Hospital said they would have none of it because payment of this allowance had always been late.

“Not wearing uniform on duty undermines the profession, but how do you allow the MEC, HOD and other department officials to receive all their benefits while ours are not paid on time? Every year there are delays in paying this allowance and it’s time the department took us seriously,” said the nurse.

The Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (Denosa) confirmed that they did not accept the department’s verbal undertaking.

Sibonelo Cele, Denosa provincial chairperson, said on Monday they adopted a “no uniform” stance, having waited since April for the allowance.

The Patient Rights Charter stipulates that nurses should be in uniform at all times, said a department official who did not want to be named because he is not authorised to speak to the media.

He said the charter made provisions for the patient to be able to identify nurses who attended to them.

“The nurses’ grievance is valid but should not encroach on patients’ rights,” he said.

Cele said KZN was the only province that had not paid the allowance this year.

He said about 33 000 nurses were yet to be paid the R2 499 uniform allowance as per Resolution 1 of the Public Health and Social Development Sectoral Bargaining Council of 2005.

Samuel Mkhwanazi, department spokesperson, said: “The department pays nurses’ uniform allowance after receiving the annual Consumer Price Index rate. This rate is received around April each year, which means that the process to implement payment can be made after this date.

“This is to ensure that nurses’ allowance payment is not below inflation.

“The department would like to apologise to all employees affected by the delay to pay the allowance which was caused by internal administrative processes.

“The department is working with national treasury to speed up the process to ensure that the nurses’ uniform allowance is paid by the end of July 2017.”

A follow-up question on the allegation that the department failed to commit in writing was not answered.

Daily News

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