The North West Department of Health was put under administration in April (File photo)

The North West Department of Health was put under administration in April (File photo)

The Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (DENOSA) has lashed out at the North West Department of Health saying its “useless human resource (HR) planning” had compromised the future of nurses in the province.

DENOSA communications manager Sibongiseni Delihlazo said nurses who were studying at public colleges were known to be in the system for a specific period, and therefore should ordinarily be budgeted for by the department, including during the years that they will be doing community service.

But, notwithstanding this, the provincial Department of Health notified all community service nurses not to come to work in June until the department had money to pay them, said Delihlazo. They were recalled in July but because of bad communication by mid-July most had not got the message to return to work.

“Furthermore, the claim that there was no money for these nurses shows gross incompetence on the HR planning division, and that is something DENOSA condemns in the strongest possible terms. Nurses must not be made to suffer for the incompetence of administration in the department,” Delihlazo told OurHealth.

The provincial spokesperson of the Department of Health, Tebogo Lekgetoane, admitted government could have done more in getting the message to nurses to return to work in July.

“I made an announcement on Motsweding FM that community service nurses must go back to work but the Department should have also used other communication channels. The Department should have sent letters to the nurses. Calling each one would have been too expensive. I will make a follow up to make sure the Department sends letters to the nurses.”

Lekgetoane said that the department is busy making arrangements for community services nurses who have completed their two years of community service to be absorbed in other provinces.

“Representatives from the North West Department of Health are in talks with Mpumalanga government officials so that North West community services nurses can be absorbed into that province,” said Lekgetoane.

Nurse allegedly terminated while on maternity leave

One nurse, Lerato* spoke to OurHealth about her painful experience of being an unemployed on condition that she not be named. Lerato was based at Leeudoringstad Community Health Centre in Leeudoringstad in the Dr Kenneth Kaunda District.

I could not pay all my bills. My car is about to be repossessed. I am behind on payments on all my accounts”

She says her contract was terminated in April 2015 and she has been unemployed ever since. She is living at home in Itsoseng and is under a lot of emotional and financial stress.

“I was on maternity leave when I got the termination letter. I became very stressed and developed postpartum depression. I was booked into the Kgatelopele Wellness Centre in Mafikeng for 16 days,” said Lerato.

During the three months of unemployment Lerato was also under a lot of financial strain and struggled to support her four-month-old baby.

“I could not pay all my bills. My car is about to be repossessed. I am behind on payments on all my accounts,” said Lerato.

After graduating from Nursing College nurses have to complete two years of community nursing. Lerato had only completed a year of the community nursing service when her contract was terminated.

Lerato said that most of the nurses whose contracts were terminated had only completed a year of community nursing. “The North West Department of Health suggested as a solution that they may send us to other provinces but that won’t work because we don’t have the required 2 years of community nursing.

“We studied nursing in the North West now we are stuck here. It will be difficult for other provinces to absorb us,” said Lerato.

She said she knows of a lot of community service nurses who have been unemployed over the past few months. She now regrets choosing nursing as a career.

*Not her real name