Student nurse selection hijacked, says district

2009-12-17 00:00

THE KZN Health Department has allegedly undermined the Umgungundlovu health district’s central selection committee by not allowing it to choose which nurses should be accepted for training, as it usually does.

This comes amid allegations that nepotism — and possibly bribery — have been occuring at one of the district’s nursing colleges.

The committee was put in place to handle the selection and admission of candidates to nursing colleges in various districts of the province.

The province has six health districts, three of which have sub-districts. Each district has a selection committee.

The department’s Human Resource Management Circular No. 8 of 2005 stipulates that the selection should be done by the committees in their respective districts.

The Witness has learnt that the committee for Umgungundlovu and its sub-district, Sisonke, were barred from doing the selection by the province.

A source close to the Umgungundlovu committee said the department has failed to explain to the committee why the KZN Nursing College, which administers all the nursing colleges in the province, had to take over the selection process.

The circular states that in the selection process, demographic representation and equity must be taken into consideration and that the selection committees should ensure objectivity and transparency.

It is further alleged that there is no transparency in the Grey’s Hospital college selection. The student nurse intake ratio should be three Indians, three whites and one coloured for every 37 to 40 students admitted.

The source said Grey’s has nine Indian student nurses on its intake list, which is not in line with the Employment Equity Act.

“It came as a surprise to us that the KZN Nursing College was doing the selection. This left us with more questions than answers as a number of points in the circular were overlooked. The question remains, why were we undermined?

“We feel that the interference of the KZN college and of a particular director in that college has resulted in the lack of transparency, nepotism and possible bribery in this selection process,” the source said.

In its response, the department said allowing the college to do the selection is a pilot exercise to evaluate the process with a view to centralising the application process.

Health Department spokesman Sbonelo Msomi said, “The departmental policy was adhered to because 80,25% of candidates for Grey’s campus were blacks. The chairperson of the committee was informed early about the changes.”

DA caucus leader in the KZN Legislature John Steenhuisen said the DA is opposed to the use of quotas or formulas based on race in any aspect of South African life.

He said whenever opportunities are narrowed it opens the door for bribery and corruption as more candidates compete for few positions.

He also said that opportunities for scarce medical professionals should be expanding rather than being limited on the basis of race.

“It is highly irregular for any department in government to ignore directives or decisions from the management. If the committee was undermined, then the selection of the nursing students is questionable,” Steenhuisen said.

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