Human resources: Health department should explain its baffling policies
In light of the recent rejection of an application by a British nurse to work in South Africa, despite having a Masters degree in nursing, the DA will be calling on health minister Aaron Motsoaledi to come before the health committee to explain his department's non-existent human resources strategy.
Such a strategy should be a much higher priority for the government than the implementation of the NHI, because the NHI cannot work without enough nurses. It is disheartening that, despite the fact that there will be an estimated shortage of 60 000 nurses in South Africa by next year, the national department of health still does not have a plan to increase the number of nurses, and that incidents such as this can still occur.
The nurse, Elizabeth Brierley, who has a Masters degree in nursing science, was rejected, after a three-year process, because her degree was apparently too "specialized". This example makes it obvious that serious attention needs to be given to both the policies and the performance of the department's Foreign Workforce Management Programme, which makes decisions on foreign-qualified health professionals wanting to work in South Africa. South Africa cannot afford to lose the skills of any nurse with recognized qualifications.
But this is only part of a much larger human resources problem which includes, for example, the department's reluctance to allow private hospitals to train more nurses, the fact that the state-run nursing colleges have only half the staff they need, and that many colleges the government promised to re-open, remain closed.
Furthermore, it is remarkable that, even as the department is casting judgement on the relevance of foreign degrees, it is doing nothing to monitor the quality of local qualifications. Not a single South African nursing college has been inspected since 2004, so we in fact have no idea whether our own nurses are receiving quality education, or in fact any education at all.
Statement issued by Mike Waters MP, Democratic Alliance Shadow Minister of Health, October 19 2010
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