Student nurses in Eastern Cape demand jobs from provincial government

The health department says it does not have enough money to hire these nurses when they qualify at the end of March

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Eastern Cape nurses who are completing their training want the provincial health department to hire them as outlined in their contracts. Photo: Johnnie Isaac

About 200 nurses protested on a field in Bhisho on Wednesday against the provincial Department of Health’s decision not to hire them when they complete their training at the end of March.

They are among over 630 nursing students whose contracts will be terminated soon, despite a contractual agreement that they must work for the department for about four years after they qualify. The department funds the nurses’ four years of study and then they are expected to work in the provincial health service for four years. But this year the department says it does not have enough money to take them on.

On Wednesday, the group of nurses handed over a memo of demands to officials. They want the provincial health department to reverse its decision to terminate their contracts. They say some of them are the main breadwinners in their families.

Nkosodumo Ngcai, one of the protesters, said it would be challenging to find employment in other provinces. Ngcai said the department should have planned better.

Eastern Cape Department of Health spokesperson Yonela Dekeda said the department had financial constraints and was lobbying the National Department of Health for more funding. She said the department had invested in the nurses and hoped to find ways to ensure they could work. As posts became available, bursary holders would be prioritised, Dekeda said.

TOPICS:  Health

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