The Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (Denosa) on Friday called on President Cyril Ramaphosa to intervene in the nursing sector and avert what it described as “a looming health crisis”.
The union had echoed sentiments expressed by several academics and health care organisations who warned that a staff shortage could cripple the nursing profession and lead to dire consequences for the national health sector.
Proposed regulatory changes to the occupation brought forward by the Department of Higher Education and Training had also raised eyebrows.
A new curriculum for professional nurses was expected to be introduced from January next year as stipulated by rules passed down by the Department of Health.
Concerns had been flagged about institutions’ state of readiness to implement these changes in time, but the chief nursing officer at the national Department of Health Dr Nonhlanhla Makhaya said there was no need to sound any alarms.
“Almost 80% of that curriculum, particularly from the college sector has been evaluated,” Makhaya said.
She added: “There’s been formal directories and circulars that have been sent to everybody to guide them continuously and inform them about the process as it unfolds.”
However, Denosa president Simon Hlungwani said the sector was facing several challenges compounded by a lack of a workable succession plan.
“If the staff leaves the services in the public sector; they retire, they die, or resign by any chance – they are not being replaced so there’s what we call a technical moratorium.”
Hlungwani said the state should take collective responsibility for the pressure placed on the country’s nurses.