SA faces nurse shortages

The Health Dept has admitted that attracting nurses into the profession has been a challenge.

FILE: The Health Dept has admitted that attracting nurses into the profession has been a challenge.

CAPE TOWN - The Health Department says attracting nurses into the profession has been quite a challenge.

Many public hospitals have staff shortages and patients are forced to wait in long queues daily while others complain about the behaviour of nurses.

Chief Nursing Officer for the Department of Health Dr Nonhlanhla Makhanya told the Redi Tlhabi Show that many people don't want to enter the profession.

"Attracting nurses into the profession has been quite a challenge. And it's interplay between training and education of nursing and actual placement in practice areas. You find that there are challenges in terms of attracting the relevant people to get into the profession."

Makhanya says they aware of complaints against nurses.

"Nurse training is one of the key elements in terms of the nursing strategy and there are systems already underway to improve the teaching and learning component of nursing. There has been a major input of resources to actually revitalise colleges of nursing and to develop the capacity of tutors to be able to teach the relevant curriculum."

Meanwhile, head of the School Of Public Health at Wits Professor Laetitia Rispel confirms the nursing profession is facing many challenges.

"Some of it is brought about by staff shortages, a relatively unsupportive work environment and the fact that we are not producing and keeping nurses in the profession."

She says many people finish the course but then decide against entering the profession.

"People enter nursing and in many cases go through the four-year course. We also find that there's a big gap between when they qualify and actually register with the Nursing Council which allows them to practice as a nurse."

However, she says it is not all doom and gloom as there are dedicated nurses who go as far as giving transport money to patients.