Red tape throt­tles for­eign nurses

CityPress - - News - ZINHLE MAPUMULO zinhle.mapumulo@city­press.co.za

After wait­ing four years for a work per­mit, But­holezwe Ny­athi will have to wait for any­where be­tween two and 10 more to be regis­tered with the SA Nurs­ing Coun­cil (Sanc). Only then can the qual­i­fied nurse, a Zim­bab­wean cit­i­zen, get to work here.

While he’s wait­ing, South Africa is bat­tling with a short­age of about 38 000 nurses.

Ny­athi and other for­eign nurses are be­ing kept out of clin­ics and hos­pi­tals by red tape, a new re­port by Wits Univer­sity’s African Cen­tre for Mi­gra­tion & So­ci­ety re­veals.

The re­port, ti­tled A Dis­pos­able Work­force: For­eign Health Pro­fes­sion­als in the South African Pub­lic Ser­vice, found that just 1.5% of our coun­try’s 173 080 nurses and doc­tors are from else­where in the world.

The re­port’s lead au­thor, as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor Aure­lia Se­gatti, said the health depart­ment was miss­ing an op­por­tu­nity by ig­nor­ing thou­sands of qual­i­fied nurses from other coun­tries who could “fill the gap” in the un­der­staffed state sec­tor.

“South Africa is ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a short­age of nurses. One would have thought that while gov­ern­ment is in­creas­ing the num­ber of nurses be­ing trained in pub­lic and pri­vate in­sti­tu­tions, it would place for­eign qual­i­fied nurses to fill the gap in the mean­time,” said Se­gatti.

Dr Ter­ence Carter, the health depart­ment’s deputy di­rec­tor-gen­eral re­spon­si­ble­for­work­forcede­vel­op­ment and plan­ning, said he wasn’t aware of any de­lays in reg­is­ter­ing for­eign nurses.

Carter said: “If there are de­lays, it is usu­ally due to the re­quired pa­per not be­ing­file­dath­ome­af­fair­sorthenurs­ing coun­cil.”

South Africa’s nurs­ing col­leges and univer­si­ties pro­duce be­tween 3 000 and 4 000 nurses a year com­bined. The most re­cent avail­able health depart­ment statis­tics, from 2011, put the short­age of nurses at 38 000.

Ny­athi wishes he could help. “I am pas­sion­ate about nurs­ing and have been miss­ing it since I was forced to leave the pro­fes­sion in 2012, when Sanc dereg­is­tered me be­cause home af­fairs had re­duced my refugee per­mit to six months.”

He’s been bat­tling the sys­tem since he moved here in 2003. He worked at Potchef­stroom Hos­pi­tal in North West for four years un­til he was dereg­is­tered.

This week, the process started all over again. He’s up­beat, but Se­gatti warns that “enor­mous red tape” and lost doc­u­ments of­ten hin­der for­eign­ers’ reg­is­tra­tion.

De­lays [are] usu­ally due to the re­quired pa­per not be­ing filed

TER­ENCE CARTER

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