File picture.
Durban - THE Democratic Nursing Organisation of SA (Denosa) has called out the provincial Health Department for not honouring its promise to hire nurses.

Denosa provincial secretary Mandla Shabangu said that last October the union and department had agreed that about 1 200 people who qualified as professional nurses would be employed whenever vacancies arose.

Shabangu said that as of this month, about 600 had been employed.

He said vacancies occasioned by nurses retiring or resigning were not being replaced timeously. Instead, vacancies were sometimes being terminated.

This created staff shortages where one nurse would do the work of three people, Shabangu said.

Since the agreement was made last year, the number of nurses who qualified rose to 700, he said, adding that he hoped recently-appointed department head Dr Sandile Tshabalala would prioritise and resolve the matter.

Department spokesperson Nolu-thando Nkosi said the agreement still stood.

“The department has been placing, and will continue to place and/or translate all eligible health-care professionals - be they bursary holders, community service nurses or professional nurses - as and when circumstances permit.”

Shabangu said this was “an old story” the department had been repeating since the days of former MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo.

Nandipha Kheswa is among the nurses still waiting for employment. Kheswa, from Imbali township in Pietermaritzburg, said: “I have almost given up hope.”

She said she was now doing odd jobs at NGOs to make ends meet. She said her parents had spent more than R40000 on educating her so she could pursue her dream of becoming a nurse.

Kheswa said that while they were struggling to make ends meet, she and other nurses still had to pay R400 to the SA Nursing Council to ensure they remained registered as nurses.

The Daily News reported in January that Denosa had asked why the government was allowing colleges to train nurses when it could not afford to employ them. The union said this was a national issue and there should not be unemployed nurses when there was a shortage of staff in hospitals.

Dhlomo had responded then and said the situation was caused by private colleges training too many nurses, and not considering whether they stood a good chance of getting employment.

He said the colleges should close down or restrict intake.