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SA has shortfall of up to 400,000 nurses, says DA

The party said in its hurried attempt to implement NHI, government had stalled the process of accrediting new and current nurse training institutions.

FILE: A nurse takes a patient's blood pressure in hospital. Picture: EWN.

CAPE TOWN - The Democratic Alliance (DA) on Monday said South Africa had a deficit of to 400,000 nurses and wouldn’t be able to meet the demand once the National Health Insurance (NHI) comes into effect.

The party said in its hurried attempt to implement NHI, government had stalled the process of accrediting new and current nurse training institutions, which would be critical to the rollout of the NHI.

This came as Parliament’s health portfolio committee sent letters to all political parties in the National Assembly that public hearings on NHI Bill would start in October.

The DA said it would write to Health Minister Zweli Mkhize to request a detailed public statement explaining how his department would expedite the process of accrediting nursing institutions.

The party said this was central to the successful implementation of the NHI because trained nurses would service NHI accredited healthcare centres.

DA Member of Parliament Madeleine Hicklin said it was puzzling how the government intended to achieve its NHI target of one staff member per 40 patients ratio when it had shown that it was not committed to finding an urgent solution to the nursing crisis.

“The current predictions that we need in terms of an additional staff compliment to match what is needed for the NHI, is in excess of 400,000 nurses across the board,” Hicklin said.

She said the DA would raise these and other concerns when it makes an official submission during the NHI public hearings, which start in Mpumalanga on 25 to 28 October.

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