‘We’ll em­ploy 240 nurses’

Ear­lier 650 newly-trained nurses had faced be­ing without jobs in the prov­ince

The Star Late Edition - - METRO - SIBONGILE MASHABA [email protected] @smashaba

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.

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