The Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (Denosa) has sounded the alarm over the shortage of nurses, and the overstretched healthcare workers in Limpopo.
The organisation said despite the Limpopo health department’s efforts to increase bed capacity to accommodate as many Covid-19 patients as possible, it believed this measure would not be enough.
“We believe that these additional beds will not save the lives of community members due to shortage of nurses who are required to take care of patients admitted in the hospitals.
“The available nurses are already overstretched, exhausted and frustrated due to the overwhelmed health system in the province.”
Covid-19 cases are rising sharply across the province, especially in the Capricorn and Vhembe districts.
The province currently has 37,197 Covid-19 infections.
One of the reasons the province finds itself in this situation, Denosa said, was due to the health department’s “poor preparations” in fighting the second wave of infections.
They said the province failed to fill vacant nursing posts on time, either due to nurses retiring, dying or being transferred.
Round-the-clock, 24-hour clinics were no longer able to provide services due to the chronic nursing shortage, Denosa said.
To add fuel to the fire, Denosa accused the health department of choosing to dismiss 368 newly qualified professional nurses due to complete their community service at the end of January.
They are calling for these nurses to be absorbed into the province’s embattled healthcare system.
They have accused the national Department of Health of treating Limpopo’s health department as a “training agent for other provinces” who are benefiting from professional nurses “trained and dumped on the streets despite severe shortages”.
The province’s health department was said to have trained at least 700 professional nurses, who were then recruited by other provinces and private healthcare institutions, instead of being absorbed into Limpopo’s healthcare system.
Denosa wants the province’s health department to implement Circular 39 of 2020, which advertised for the appointment of 1362 professional nurses, 167 staff nurses and 102 nursing assistants.
“We believe that additional beds are required to strengthen the province’s capacity to deal with the resurgence,” Denosa emphasised.
Compiled by Nica Richards