Marizka Coetzer
2 minute read
13 May 2022
4:15 am

‘No reason to celebrate International nurses day’ says nurses union

Marizka Coetzer

The union said nurses were being exploited and forced to work under shocking conditions.

Members of the Young Nurses Indaba Trade Union (YNITU) march to the offices of the South African Nursing Council to boycott International Nurses Day, 12 March 2022, Pretoria. Picture: Jacques Nelles

Instead of celebrating International Nurses Day, members of the Young Nurses Indaba Trade Union (YNITU) on Thursday marched to the South African Nursing Council (SANC) in Tshwane to hand over a memorandum of demands.

The union said nurses were being exploited and forced to work under shocking conditions.

YNITU general secretary Lerato Mthunzi said nurses were expected to perform miracles and to risk their lives for low pay without the resources to do their jobs properly.

“We have no reason to celebrate International Nurses Day. YNITU says to hell with International Nurses Day,” she said.

Mthunzi added that SANC was trying to hold on to power instead of empowering nurses.

“For five years, SANC has failed to provide a progressive way to allow nurses to advance their nursing careers.

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“Nurses who have trained under the old curriculum were unable to improve their skills because this organisation is an obstacle to their development,” she said.

Mthunzi said patients often complained about nurses being rude, not realising they were not trained to incorporate soft skills.

“If nurses are not properly educated and well developed and upskilled, can you imagine the substandard service they give,” she said.

“This is not a cry about the profession but a cry for the community. We are not giving people the best of the best and we are tired of being used as scapegoats and accomplices of murders happening in our hospitals that could have been prevented,” she added.

Among the demands in the memorandum are the fast-tracking of a total transition of the regulations and training to the Council on Higher Education and attending to unwarranted academic exclusions and discrimination by nursing institutions.

The union has also called for the dissolution of the advisory committee, a review of the scope of practice of new and legacy qualifications, and fast-tracking the process of accreditation in postgraduate diplomas.

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SANC was also criticised for its administrative flaws and urged to stop wasting money and paper.

A sister, Zandi Ntsodo, said nurses got short shrift when it came to skills acquisition.

“The current training doesn’t equip a nurse to give comprehensive service. It’s malpractice for us, which goes against our basic principles. It’s putting people’s lives at risk.

“I feel our government cannot look after people’s lives and it’s contagious and it’s spreading into our regulatory bodies and departments,” she said.

Ntsodo said nursing was her livelihood and she wanted to grow but instead felt stuck, depressed, and suppressed.

The Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) in the Northern Cape backed the Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (Denosa’s) march to the office of the premier about the deteriorating state of health infrastructure, corruption, and the collapse of the state’s ability to provide better healthcare services to its people.

Cosatu noted understaffed workplaces and long hours.