File Image Picture: Matt Rourke, AP
Durban - The Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (Denosa) has threatened to take the KwaZulu-Natal health department to court, for not permanently employing about 190 nurses after four years of training, including community service.

Mandla Shabangu, Denosa provincial secretary, said this year the department has not hired a single fully qualified nurse. He said this was despite the dire shortage of nurses in health facilities around the province.

“Denosa in KZN will take the Provincial Department of Health to court over its failure to absorb nurses, who have completed their year of community service, into the full-time employment of the department as per the agreement,” he said.

Shabangu said, normally, trainee nurses enter into an agreement with the department that stipulates that they will be employed once the training is completed.

“The agreement states that after four years of training, which includes one year of community service, the nurses will be employed by the department for a time equal to the time they spent training,”he said.

However, Shabangu said the department informed the nurses at the last minute that they were not going to be employed. He added that the union has approached the department for answers.

“The department should make its intentions clear on whether or not it intends to employ the nurses, which should have been done on January 1,” he said.

An alternative to employing the nurses, said Shabangu, was for the department to release the nurses from their obligation to pay the department for funding their studies.

“If the department chooses not to employ them, this will forfeit the service of hundreds of nurses,” Shabangu said.

He said any amendment, to the original agreement concluded with the nurses, should be stated in writing. The organisation has given the department until January 11 to make its intention known. “We will be left with no option but to approach the court of law,” Shabangu said.

KZN Department of Health spokesperson Ncumisa Mafunda said the department has not employed the nurses because they are identifying vacant and funded posts.

She said another issue, regarding nursing posts, was that there were nurses, who had done the bridging course from staff nurse to professional nurse, who also needed posts.

“The department is looking to identify (posts) for both these groups,” Mafunda said.

The Mercury