Health workers exodus

2015-11-16 14:14

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Pietermaritzburg - The provincial Health Department is facing an exodus of senior staff and is battling to find replacements.

Despite being short of several thousand nurses and critical specialist positions, the KZN Department of Health is not advertising for any new posts.

Yet about 15% of all critical posts, according to the department’s latest annual report, are vacant.

The largest health sector union Nehawu is now threatening to picket outside the department’s office in Natalia, Pietermaritzburg, with similar action expected at several provincial hospitals.

In just critical positions alone, the 818 positions filled by the Health Department in the last financial year was eclipsed by the leaving of 1 012 professionals.

Out of the 6 200 staff that left the department, more than half (3 486) resigned with insiders blaming unhappiness over working conditions.

A blanket freeze on almost all posts in all departments as ordered by provincial Treasury in September has not helped either.

DA MPL for Health Dr Imran Keeka said he believed that fatigue was a key contributor to pushing staff out of the public medical space.

“The hours are long, it is a stressful occupation and there is often a shortage of medication. The working environment in general is unfavourable,” said Keeka.

He said the loss of nursing staff was of a “particular concern”.

“The thing is at a recent KZN Legislature roadshow we reviewed minutes from between 2010 and 2012 for several hospitals who at those times complained of staff shortages. Still today the situation has not changed,” said Keeka.

In a recent parliamentary reply the KZN Health Department said the total vacancies in the “critical occupation” list stood at 9 783. The posts that fit this criteria cover a wide scope from engineers, oral hygienists to speech therapists and radiographers.

A senior Health official, who could not be named as they are not allowed to speak to the media, said the province’s inability to accommodate professional staff has resulted in them leaving the province and the country. “These are historic lows for employing staff. When staff leave, there will be no replacement.”

However, the department does believe it has a solution, at least in the long term.

A five-year Memorandum of Understanding signed between both the department and the University of KwaZulu-Natal in December 2014, and seen by The Witness, requires the university to increase its intake of students from “disadvantaged communities” into health sciences while creating greater opportunities for students to gain practical experience in the field.

Chief among its target is to “promote” the return of students “to their communities post qualification” as a means of increasing staff numbers in particularly rural areas where vacancies and resignations are often highest.

Phakama Ndunakazi, Nehawu’s provincial secretary, said they have been “fighting this issue with the department for three years”.

“We have evidence that there are at least 11 000 qualified nurses in the province that are currently unemployed. Freezing posts is not going to help anyone but the employer,” said Ndunakazi.

The Health Department referred all comments to Treasury and UKZN.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  health

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

 
PARTNER CONTENT
INFOGRAPHIC: New thinking required for retirement

Everything we believe about retirement is fast becoming outdated.

PARTNER CONTENT
WATCH: How education can change a life

A university education gives students the chance to create a better future for themselves, their families and to opportunity achieve their dreams.

/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
Traffic
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.