‘We’ll employ 240 nurses’
Earlier 650 newly-trained nurses had faced being without jobs in the province
THE GAUTENG Department of Health has made a U-turn on its plan not to absorb nurses it sent for training and who underwent community service.
In an about turn, head of department Mkhululi Lukhele has announced that at least 240 nurses will be employed. A total of 650 had faced being without jobs.
Last week The Star reported that for the first time in many years, the health departments in Gauteng and Limpopo would not be absorbing nurses.
In a circular, Lukhele stated that all 2016/17 and 2017/18 community service nurses “appointed additional to the post establishment” should not be kept in service beyond February.
Lukhele said this cohort should be appointed on a month-to-month contract for January and February.
“All affected nurses should be encouraged to apply for posts with the private sector institutions that were engaged by the department,” Lukhele said.
Yesterday, Lukhele said the department had put measures in place to fast track the filling of community service nurses.
“With this process, the nursing posts have been prioritised. Out of the 650 stimulus package posts, 240 will be used to absorb professional nurses,” Lukhele said.
He said the role of nurses was “crucial in the health care system”.
“They are the heart and soul of the system and the department will continue to prioritise them,” he said.
Lukhele said negotiations between the Gauteng Department of Health, the private sector and NGOs were ongoing and at an “advanced stage to ensure that the remaining number of those community service nurses are contracted as well to serve the public”.
“Although the implementation of our recovery plan is beginning to bear fruit, it is appropriate to share that the department is not yet out of the woods. We are faced with a challenge to manage the high compensation of employees costs. Our budget is currently accounting for just over 60% of the total departmental budget and the status quo is making it difficult to create new posts or absorb all professionals who completed their community service.
“Amid all the challenges, I would like to assure the affected staff members that we are working around the clock to resolve all the hindrances related to the placements. I would like to appeal for their patience and co-operation at this crucial time,” he said.
Limpopo Health MEC Phophi Ramathuba has also cited a cash crisis facing the department, saying it had forced her to release 444 workers who were doing community service.