By Mia Slabbert
The nursing profession is in intensive care and if urgent intervention does not take place and solutions are not found for the enormous shortage of nursing staff, South Africa will be facing a possible national health care crisis.
This is according to what the Solidarity Occupational Guild for Health Practitioners said at a conference today. “One of the biggest challenges in the nursing industry in South Africa is the shortage of nursing staff. In 2010, a shortage of more than 44 700 nursing staff was recorded,” Hennie Bierman, Head of the Solidarity Occupational Guilds said.
According to Bierman, the nursing profession has been jeopardised over the last 10 years by among others, a lack of funds, a shortage of equipment, and insufficient training. “The number of qualified nursing practitioners in all nursing categories decreased by approximately 40% since 2013,” Bierman said.
Bierman added that this drastic decrease in qualified students also poses an enormous danger for the future of the profession with statistics from The South African Nursing Council (SANC) confirming that there has been a decrease of more than 8 000 qualifying students from 2016 to 2017.
According to Dr Dirk Hermann, Chief Operations Officer of Solidarity, South Africa cannot afford that this industry fails. “In Nursing Week, we would like to thank every nursing staff member for your selfless work. You perform very well under difficult circumstances for people who depend on your good care. Because we are on the side of the nursing staff, Solidarity will not fulfil its duty if we do not point out the crisis in the industry and therefore we will announce drastic steps to address the situation,” Hermann said during the conference.
Biermann said dat South Africa’s statistics on the profession is of great concern. The ratio of nursing staff to the population using the public health care sector, according to Persal, the payroll and personnel administration system, indicates that there is only one nurse for 401 people. This is shocking.”
In view of the crisis in the industry, Solidarity announced a five-point action plan. “The Solidarity Occupational Guild for Health Practitioners will take the responsibility on themselves to create a large study fund, specifically for nursing students. “This fund has been created to provide training for students who have a consuming passion to help people, but cannot afford it,” Bierman said.
Solidarity is also going to offer profession-specific training of high quality through S-leer, Solidarity’s centre for continued learning to create a platform for nursing staff to develop their skills and abilities further as part of this plan. Solidarity will also focus on strengthening Akademia’s endeavours regarding accreditation for its degree in Nursing.
“Nursing as a profession in South Africa is in jeopardy, but the impact thereof on good health care for millions of South Africans is almost inconceivable,” Bierman concluded.
Solidarity will also act as a watchdog in the workplace to ensure that the working environment is conducive for nursing staff. Solidarity has already instructed it legal team to investigate the possibility of litigation regarding the non-accreditation of nursing courses.
The public is requested to contribute to the study fund for nursing students by sending the word YES to 34802 (R1/SMS)