Overworked, underpaid and afraid. Nurses march for better days

2013-11-08 08:27

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Nurses working in clinics and hospitals around Gauteng have called on premier Nomvula Mokonyane to come to their rescue.

They say they are overworked and not reimbursed correctly for overtime; they have to fight with patients who don’t understand it’s not their fault when medication is not available; and they fear for their lives while at work because security is weak.

Frustrated by the poor working conditions, less than a hundred nurses who are members of the Cosatu-affiliated Democratic Nurses Organisation of South Africa (Denosa) took to the streets of Johannesburg yesterday.

Carrying posters reading: “Stop killing of healthcare practitioners (sic)”, they marched from Cosatu House in Braamfontein to the premier’s office in the Johannesburg city centre where they handed over a memorandum of grievances.

According to the memorandum, Denosa demands that the provincial government:

» Improve safety and security at the public healthcare facilities by employing trained security guards;

» Pay all outstanding performance bonuses and overtime payments;

» Ensure there are sufficient medical supplies like needles, gloves and essential drugs;

» Temporarily suspend 24-hour clinics until further consultation; and

» Stop employing unqualified staff in managerial positions and in the maternity ward.

Denosa’s provincial secretary, Dimakatso Sebopa, said they had no option but to take to the streets because their cries had fallen on deaf ears.

She said: “We communicated challenges to the Health MEC in November last year but we have not received any satisfactory response to these issues, hence we have brought them to the premier.”

“The non-payment of healthcare workers cannot and will never be acceptable. The provincial department of health owes some nurses PMDS (performance bonuses) for the 2008/9 financial year. This money has to be paid by April next year,” she said.

On the issue of staff shortages, Sebopa said the department must deal with this issue urgently as nurses were overworked and they were feeling the strain.

She also urged the department to employ, “the right person for the right job”. She was referring to the maternity wards which she said were staffed “by registered nurses who are not trained in midwifery”.

“We call for this malpractice to stop with immediate effect because it is affecting the millennium development goals,” Sebopa said.

Aviva Manqa from the premier’s office accepted the memorandum on behalf of Mokonyane.

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