Province needs increased nursing capacity – DA NCape

Isak Fritz says those recently hired are but a drop in the ocean

Northern Cape needs increased nursing capacity

12 May 2020

Note to Editors: Please find attached soundbites in English & Afrikaans from Dr Isak Fritz, MPL.

On this International Nurses Day, the Democratic Alliance (DA) in the Northern Cape is calling on MEC of Health, MaseManopole, to do more to increase nursing capacity in the province.

While we acknowledge that the department recently made some nursing staff appointments, the additional nurses are but a drop in the ocean.

The province’s only tertiary facility, Robert Sobukwe Mangaliso Hospital, remains dismally short of nursing staff, not to mention highly specialized nursing staff. This is felt in all departments, from Intensive Care Units (ICU), to theaters to forensics. This same situation is mirrored across all other hospitals and clinics across the districts. In some rural towns, there are even clinics that have a single nurse manning the facility at a time. This is not conducive to both quality healthcare and to the wellbeing of nurses.

In effect, nurses find themselves heavily overworked, burnt out and demotivated. This is with the current burden of disease in the province and does not even include the added burden on our health system that we are expecting to see due to Covid-19.

We need more nurses to ease the burden of the current nursing staff. We also need nursing reinforcements to ensure that health services do not come to a standstill, should nurses get sick.

There should be no nurse, who is willing and able to work, sitting at home in the province. The department must simply find a way to ensure that all nurses seeking employment at government facilities, are afforded the opportunity.

The provincial Health Department has long been known for its slow recruitment processes, that have tended to see submissions get backlogged at the provincial head office as they await the signature of the MEC. This must come to an end.

In addition to the DA calling for extra nursing capacity for the province, we also call on the MEC to ensure that all nursing staff and other health professionals have adequate access to Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs). This must include soap and sanitizer, which are some of the most basic supplies that, at times, have been known to absent from hospitals and other facilities

In order to ensure that the province builds quality nursing capacity over the long term, greater focus must also be placed on improving nursing education at the Henrietta Stockdale Nursing College in Kimberley. This institution regularly hovers on the verge of having its accreditation stripped away due to non-compliance to certain standards of the South African Nursing Council. This, coupled with the institution’s poor pass rate, must also not be allowed to continue and, demands urgent attention from provincial and national government.

The DA thanks all nurses across the globe for their dedication to helping the sick, for sacrificing so much of their time with their families, and for risking their own health to help others, as we come face to face with the unprecedented Coronavirus pandemic. We further send our condolences to all the families of nurses who have passed away due to the Coronavirus. Their deaths have not been in vain.

Nurses are at the frontline of the fight against the pandemic and they deserve our gratitude and our prayers. We only hope that government will also show them the appreciation they deserve by ensuring their safety and wellbeing through provision of PPEs. Now, more than ever before we need all nurses to be healthy and protected.

Issued by Isak Fritz,DA Northern Cape Spokesperson of Health, 12 May 2020