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KZN Health Department says absorption of nurses no longer viable

Historically, the Department of Health was contractually bound to employ community service nurses upon completion of their training - that obligation changed in 2016.

File picture. Picture: Tracey Adams

Published Jul 6, 2022

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Durban - The KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health says due to financial constraints and shrinking resources, the practice of automatic absorption ended as it was no longer viable.

The department said this in response to protest action threats by the nurses union Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (Denosa) after it gave the department an ultimatum to hire post-community service nurses in the province this week.

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According to the Health Department spokesperson Mdu Ncalane, as of 2022/23, the contract between department and community service nurses is no longer binding, which means nurses will be at liberty to seek employment on their own if there are no readily available vacancies.

“Historically, the department was contractually bound to employ community service nurses upon completion of their training. In turn, these students were obligated to spend two years performing community services, as part of “paying back” to the state for the investment made in training them.

“However, due to financial constraints and shrinking resources, the practice of automatic absorption was stopped in 2016, as it was no longer viable.”

Ncalane said the department has had engagements with Denosa in May this year where it was agreed that – prevailing challenges notwithstanding - efforts would be made to absorb 86 nurses.

“So far, six nurses have been absorbed, while efforts are under way to appoint the remaining nurses on a contractual basis, as well as and when posts become available,” he said.

He added that they are of the view that it is unfair and unfortunate for the union to threaten to embark on industrial action when efforts are under way to appoint the nurses.

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