One of Gauteng’s academic hospitals can’t fill 544 critical posts due to budgets cuts
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Johannesburg - Budget cuts and the shortage of specialist nurses have left some of the country’s hospitals with hundreds of unfilled critical posts.
Health Minister Zweli Mkhize has blamed these two factors for the high number of vacant posts at the Dr George Mukhari Academic Hospital in Ga-Rankuwa, Pretoria.
There were 544 vacancies at the George Mukhari Hospital, and 357 of these were for nursing professionals and clinical professionals.
A further 79 posts were for health professionals such as dietitians, medical technologists, radiographers and respiratory therapists.
The remaining 108 vacancies at George Mukhari, on the outskirts of Pretoria, were support and administrative staff.
Mkhize provided this data in a reply to written parliamentary questions. He was asked about the number of vacancies at George Mukhari and why the department struggled to fill these posts.
“Some of the reasons … include a recurring challenge of limited skills of specialised nurses categories in the country,” said Mkhize.
“The recruitment of clinicians is also a challenge as some of the candidates prefer to work in other academic and tertiary institutions like Steve Biko Academic Hospital,” Mkhize said.
But austerity measures also affected George Mukhari, Mkhize revealed.
Unions told The Star on Monday that it was not a surprise that George Mukhari had vacancies running into hundreds.
Posts were not filled across the nursing categories, and not just for specialists, unions maintained.
“The unfilling of posts is not a George Mukhari problem alone. It’s a widespread issue,” said Lerato Mthunzi, president of the Young Nurses Indaba Trade Union.
Mthunzi said nursing institutions would each take about 20 students a year for postgraduate specialist training.
The Democratic Nursing Organisation of SA “made noise all the time” about vacant public health posts, union spokesperson Sibongiseni Delihlazo said.
“The picture is likely to get even gloomier over the next four years,” he said. “Treasury is committed not to fill vacant positions in the public sector as their way of managing what they call this bloated public sector wage bill.”
Delihlazo cautioned against concluding that all unfilled nurse posts were for specialists. “It’s not that nurses are not willing to take up specialist courses… many applications are declined on the basis of staff shortages (in their workplace),” he said.