by Dr Isak Fritz, MPL – DA Spokesperson of Health
Error! Filename not specified.
Date: 07 March 2018
The Democratic Alliance (DA) is deeply worried about the severe shortage of nurses in the Northern Cape. This threatens the lives of our sick and most vulnerable people, who are being denied basic health care due to a dire lack of capacity at hospitals and clinics across the province.
The community of Richmond has raised their concerns about the overworked nursing Sister, who singlehandedly runs the local clinic. Between 100 and 150 patients visit the clinic every day, from Monday to Friday. While the sister tries her best, this is a massive workload for one person and it is impossible for her to see everyone and give all the patients the level of care they deserve. She often also has to deal with medical emergencies on her own, such as women going into labour, which means that even fewer patients are seen to on a day.
Those whom she cannot assist must then go to the local hospital. However, this costs them transport fees, as well as a R50 consultation fee, which ultimately sees sick people returning home without having received any medical attention whatsoever.
This is a travesty and the situation is both untenable and hazardous to the nursing sister and all the sick people of Richmond.
Kimberley Hospital, meanwhile, is facing possible theatre cuts as a result of overworked nursing sisters, directly as a result of a shortage of nursing staff at the facility. Cutting down on theatre time will cause patient backlogs to pile up even more, subsequently also delaying medical care for seriously ill patients. However, failure to do so will in turn place patients at an increased risk of adverse events, simultaneously placing the hospital at an increased risk of medico-legal claims.
The above situation is a double-edged sword for both patients and nurses alike, and it has arisen as a result of the provincial Health Department’s poor management of nursing appointments. This is unacceptable.
What especially frustrates the DA is that a number of nurses, who are actually keen to work in the Northern Cape, applied for advertised posts and even underwent interviews in as far back as October last year. To date, these appointments have yet to be processed.
The DA is aware that the recently appointed MEC of Health, Fufe Makatong, is said to have signed all appointments but whether the nurses who initially applied are still available to fill these vacant posts, remains to be seen. Questions as to whether the posts are in fact funded, also still need to be ironed out.
The DA will write to Makatong, appealing to her to place the appointments of professional nursing staff at the top of her agenda.
Makatong needs to ensure that proper processes are complied with, from start to end, when recruiting health professionals, so as to prevent untimely delays that will in effect cause the province to lose nursing staff to other provinces. Given the past freeze on state posts, the MEC also needs to ensure that the necessary permission is granted by the relevant authorities to make appointments and that funds for the appointment of critical health professionals are ring-fenced and readily available.
Administrative bungles must not be allowed to compromise patient care.
Given the rural nature of the Northern Cape, there is not an unlimited supply of nurses who actually want to work in this province. Those who do should be snapped up by the state, provided they have the necessary qualifications. Else, their services will be lost to the provincial health care system forever. This is to the detriment of all the poor people in the Northern Cape, who cannot afford alternative medical care. They deserve so much better.
The people of the Northern Cape deserve better than the ANC, which does not care about the health of the poor and elderly. The province needs a Total Change in government led by the DA, where the poor and elderly receive the dignity of quality healthcare.
Dr Isak Fritz, MPL
DA Spokesperson of Health
083 395 2737
Shelley De Witt
082 847 1387