Eastern Cape apologises for 'confusion' over jobs of 625 nurses, promises to hire them

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SA nurses say they are exhausted under the strain of the pandemic.
SA nurses say they are exhausted under the strain of the pandemic.
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  • The Eastern Cape government has done an about-turn on its decision not to hire 625 nurses at the end of their one-year contracts.
  • The province has apologised for the "confusion", says it will place the nurses according to need.
  • The nurses would also be part of the health workers in line to receive the Covid-19 vaccine.

The Eastern Cape government has made an about-turn on its decision not to hire about 600 nurses who were contracted to work at its understaffed hospitals while the country is in the grip of the second wave of Covid-19.

On Wednesday, nursing union Denosa announced that the provincial health department had ended the contracts of 200 community service nurses in January.

The union added that a further 400 would be without jobs when their one-year contracts are up at the end of February and March.   

Nearly 300 nurses staged a sit-in at the Bhisho Hospital on Wednesday, demanding full employment from the provincial head of department.

Their contracts ended in January and their studies were fully funded by government for four years.

On Thursday, the provincial government announced that after intervention from Eastern Cape Premier, Lubabalo Oscar Mabuyane, Director-General Mbulelo Sogoni, and the health and treasury departments, the 625 nurses whose contracts were not renewed, would be placed into the system.

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Health spokesperson Sizwe Kupelo said: "The Premier met with the DG and Health and Treasury last night and resolved the nurses, who have bravely been at the forefront in the fight against Covid-19, be absorbed into the system according to the need at facility level."

Kupelo said all health district offices had been requested to submit its needs so that the nurses could be placed where their services were most desperately needed. 

This process was expected to be concluded this week with the nurses expected to report for duty next week.

The nurses would also be part of the health workers in line to receive the Covid-19 vaccine.

Kupelo said in April that a group of nurses who had just completed their nursing studies were expected to join the department as community service nurses, replacing the current group.

"The department would like to apologise to the nurses and the communities they served for the inconvenience caused by this confusion," said Kupelo.

He said they valued and appreciated the work they were doing in the fight against Covid-19.

"What we apologise for is the failure to remind them that the contracts [are] coming to an end. We are not apologising for not providing jobs or extending contracts. There was no way we were going to extend the contracts because there is another group of 640 that is coming in April to replace them."

"Now that the confusion has been resolved, it is all hands on deck in the province as the virus has not yet been defeated. We urge everyone to continue playing their part by practising good personal hygiene, keeping a safe distance between them and other people and wearing masks whenever in public. Working together we will keep bringing the active cases of Covid-19 down," he said.

Denosa could not be reached for comment on Thursday.

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