Johannesburg - The Democratic Nursing Organisation of SA (Denosa) says more healthcare workers are needed to ensure that clinics in Gauteng run smoothly as some nurses are redirected to work on the countrywide Covid-19 vaccination programme.
Denosa in Gauteng said it had received reports of some nurses being sent out into the community to register members of the public to vaccinate.
“The department is expecting people to do double work. They are moving people from their core duties, which is primary health care, and then they expect them to go and vaccinate and come back and attend to the clinics,” said Denosa spokesperson Bongani Mazibuko.
He said the Health Department needed more healthcare workers to ensure that local clinics still ran smoothly while the vaccine roll-out took place.
“We have been saying that the department does not have capacity in terms of the roll-out. The plan is not feasible and the shortage of nurses has been an ongoing problem,” he said.
Mazibuko appealed to the national Health Department to share its plans with unions in order to ensure that primary health in the townships did not suffer.
“This is going to affect lines in clinics and as time goes by patients are going to be unhappy because they will not be serviced. This plan will not work without our input,” Mazibuko added.
He said half of Denosa’s members had not been vaccinated but they were expected to go out and vaccinate the broader community. He said he himself had not been vaccinated.
Mazibuko said the department had a responsibility to ensure the safety of those nurses who were sent into the community to register people for the vaccination programme.
“Until they realise that we are stakeholders, they won’t have a successful plan.”
SA Medical Association (Sama) spokesperson Angelique Coetzee said there was a shortage of staff capacity in terms of the proper roll-out of the vaccination programme.
“They had six months to prepare and there were numerous meetings. They assured everyone that there was enough human capacity and storage capacity, but somewhere along the line the maths didn’t add up and now … people are realising that the roll-out is not that easy,” Coetzee said.
She said South Africa had a huge shortage of healthcare workers.
“Sama has said many times that we don’t have enough capacity, even after the first wave that we don’t have enough capacity. We even queried the nursing staff that were used in high care, and we noticed that people were being pulled into those wards, putting these nurses up for failure,” Coetzee said.
Health Department spokesperson Popo Maja was not available for comment.