Nurses call for Health MEC to be axed

KZN nurses say they are chronically short-staffed and underpaid

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Photo of protesters
Nurses from several KwaZulu-Natal hospitals marched in Pietermaritzburg demanding that Health MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo be removed. Photo: Nompendulo Ngubane

Hundreds of nurses from hospitals across KwaZulu-Natal marched in Pietermaritzburg on Thursday, demanding that the Department of Health prioritise the demands of nurses. The nurses said they are chronically short-staffed and underpaid.

FEDUSA (Federation of Unions of South Africa) provincial organiser Bheki Gumbi said MEC for health Sibongiseni Dhlomo “must go”.

“There’s an extreme shortage of resources. We are sick and tired of being in a state where we can’t serve the patients,” said Gumbi. He said nurses were being called names by patients because the nurses couldn’t cope with the numbers. “We have had enough,” said Gumbi.

During his budget speech in May, Dhlomo had announced the department would hire retired nurses. He said nurses had approached him offering to assist the department.

In a memorandum, the marchers demanded that nurses, including student nurses, be represented on the board of the South African Nursing Council (SANC). They also want SANC to give accreditation to all TVET colleges so that private student nurses benefit from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS).

Zonke Thwala said, “There are incidents where he [Dhlomo] has taken decisions without proper investigation … The department must give us a person who understands health … He always paints a bad picture about nurses in the media. He gets excited by the cameras and microphones. He must go. We are tired.”

The memorandum was handed over at the department’s head office in the Natalia Building. The department was given a month to respond.

Head of the department Musa Gumede, said, “We will look at all the demands and respond. It is clear that some of the demands are about money. In the past we have liaised with the unions. This time we will ensure that we sit down with the workers. The office of the premier will also intervene on the matter. We are aware that there are so many problems. There will be solutions soon,” said Gumede.

TOPICS:  Health

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