Enough is enough. So say nurses across Gauteng who will take to the streets across the province in protest of their current working conditions on Wednesday.
Some of their grievances include exploiting community service nurses, non-payment of salaries, staff shortages, and retrenching of newly-qualified nurses.
Led by the Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (DENOSA), fed-up nurses will hand over a memorandum as a matter of urgency to the office of the Gauteng Premier, Treasury, and the Gauteng Department of Health.
Nurses battling many fronts
According to DENOSA’s Tshwane Regional Secretary, Mogomotsi Seleke, no one seems to care about the battles nurses in Gauteng face.
“There are a lot of issues that are on the table as we speak. Community service nurses will not be absorbed into the system or hired by the department, which has been the norm over the years. Once you’ve completed your community service, the department offers you employment,” said Sekele.
He also confirmed that the province currently faces a dire shortage of nursing personnel. Sekele warned if left unaddressed, the situation would worsen to the extent that nurses can’t cope.
“Just imagine what will happen if they chase all those away who are about to complete their community service,” said Seleke.
DENOSA Gauteng mobilizing nurses on the ground for the provincial march on 20 July to the Premier, Treasury and Gauteng Health…#WeAreDenosa@City_Press @SundayTimesZA @News24 @IOL pic.twitter.com/UF7b2qDjMr— DENOSA (@DENOSAORG) July 18, 2022
‘Used and discarded’
Sechaba Sengane is close to completing his community service work at Silverton Clinic in Pretoria. He obtained a nursing diploma at Chris Hani Baragwanath Nursing College. But he has just been informed he will not be employed.
“I am appalled and feel used and discarded. I worked as an essential worker braving the COVID-19 pandemic that ravaged our country. But now I no longer matter, despite the country and province facing a huge shortage of healthcare personnel,” he added.
With his future in the balance, Sengane said he regrets pursuing nursing as a career.
“I feel discouraged and regret being part of the nursing fraternity. Community nurses face a lot of abuse but must show up at work without being paid. And on top of that, they refuse to absorb us. It is a very frustrating situation,” said Sengane.
Running on empty
Seleke also mentioned the shortage of water in some clinics, as well as the load shedding situation.
“There are clinics operating without back-up in electricity, and nurses have to help deliver babies in these circumstances. These are just some of the issues; most of them are very basic,” he added.
Head of Communications at the Gauteng Provincial Department of Health, Motalatale Modiba, said they had noted the concerns. He promised that his department would continue to work with stakeholders to address the identified challenges.
“The department wishes to reassure the public and its employees that it remains committed to ensuring that the health system is capacitated with the necessary human resources to continue rendering much-needed health services to communities,” said Modiba. He said the department had resolved the matter of unpaid community service nurses.
Off-duty nurses only
Seleke further pleaded with nurses that only those not on duty should take to the streets.
“Remember, we have a law which bides us as nurses that we are essential service workers so that all healthcare facilities will run properly on Wednesday. However, we are calling all off-duty nurses to come and join us during the protest,” he stated. – Health-e News