Poor servicing of nurses at SANC needs urgent attention – DENOSA

Organisation says minister to do the right thing and get council to toe the line

DENOSA take on many hardships experienced by nurses when paying for their annual practicing licences at SANC

31 January 2017  

The Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (DENOSA) notes the media reports about the daily challenges that all more than 200 000 nurses of this country have to go through in order to get their annual practicing licences at the South African Nursing Council (SANC)’s only offices in Pretoria every year, some even collapsing while in the long queues under a scorching sun.  On Thursday, a nurse from KZN collapsed while on the queue at SANC offices, and died on arrival at the hospital. She had with her a bag of money to pay SANC fees for other nurses from the province.  

The poor servicing of nurses at SANC needs urgent attention from the Health Minister, and that is why we are resorting to marching to both the SANC and the National Department of Health offices on 22 February, demanding a swift solution to these issues, or else no nurse will pay their 2018 annual fees from July this year if they are subjected to the same conditions. The Council is accountable to the Minister, and we strongly believe that, through the office of the Chief Nursing Officer, he is aware of these challenges and should be putting emphasis on SANC to resolve them.

As the regulatory body for nursing in SA, SANC has only one office which is based in Pretoria. Nurses from all over the country have to travel to Pretoria in order to get their practicing licences. The other alternative of paying through the bank has proven to be unworkable as licences hardly get delivered to nurses, or arrive after six months when nurses have been expelled by their employers for not producing their practicing licences.        

DENOSA has always wanted to have an audience with SANC regarding these delays among others, but to no avail. Until this day we have not had any audience with SANC because of absence of leadership, not for the lack of trying but there is just no one to talk to – we are sent from pillar to post. We have proof of letters that we have sent to the Council, asking for a meeting over these issues. None has been responded to, let alone acknowledging receipt thereof.

The Council has not had registrar/CEO since the departure of Mr Tendani Mabuda way more than a year ago. The Council has been appointing people on an acting basis. Part of our march on 22 February is to call for stability in leadership at SANC.  

Our recent requests for a meeting in a form of letters are still unanswered until today. To say we have been frustrated is putting it modestly.

On 2 May 2014, after numerous occasions of pleading with SANC that these challenges be looked at, we resorted to a march to their offices, raising the same issues. Until today, there has not been a single solution to these challenges.

In February 2016 at our 3rd SA Nurses Conference at Birchwood Hotel in Boksburg, SANC Acting Registrar Thandi Manganyi, presented to more than 2000 nurses SANC’s plan to embark on a feasibility study on the establishment of provincial offices. We were hopeful that this would sort out the challenge of having one office for all nurses. But until today, nothing has come of this, and we are not holding our breath.

Two options remain for us:

- Marching to their offices, as we have planned (already knowing, though, that there is not likely to be any positive answer), forcing them to do justice to nurses; or

- Appealing to the minister to do the right thing and get SANC to toe the line, as we will do in our planned march.

We do not have the legal leg to force SANC to do its work, as they are accountable to the Minister. As a SANC stakeholder, our members are spending so much money, energy and time traveling to SANC from all provinces if they are to get their receipt on time, which should not be the case in this day and age of technological advancement. 

SANC is not only about collecting money from nurses, but to provide services in terms of educational needs of the profession; therefore as DENOSA we still support decentralization of offices to provinces. Thandi Manganyi acted as CEO/Registrar and now we have Sizo Mchunu who is also acting in that position.  

As an organisation that has offices in all provinces, we have always made space for SANC to operate in those offices, so that nurses at least do not have to spend so much time and money on travel and accommodation. Having made the resources available, the organisation is aggrieved when our member collapse and die in the premises of SANC. 

Our other suggestion is that SANC can provide a choice to nurses to deduct money directly from PERSAL system for those working in government, and give choice on dates of deducting (bonus month would be the most preferred, we think). This may not be acceptable to everybody but is more convenient and less hassle for those who may choose it. Lastly, the online payment should at least be created as in yesterday. 

Part of our march would be to demand that SANC consider opening offices in provinces, and open the registration period for 2018 annual fees throughout the year, and not just for five months only after July each year as is the case currently. Failure to consider this, DENOSA will prevent nurses from risking their lives by going to SANC, and there may be no nurses to practice in 2018.  

Issued by Oscar Phaka, General Secretary, DENOSA, 31 January 2017