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The KwaZulu-Natal department of health has merged three of its nursing colleges to form a single nursing institution.
The new college which is known as the KwaZulu-Natal College of Nursing (KCN) has 11 campuses across the province.
The KwaZulu-Natal health department said the purpose was to train nursing students closer to where they live. This would give them the opportunity to provide a service to their own communities.
Speaking at the launch of the KCN in Pietermaritzburg on Tuesday, KwaZulu-Natal MEC for health Peggy Nkonyeni said the merger was part of her department's strategy to deal with the shortage of nurses in the province and in the country.
Nkonyeni said her department's intention was to keep the nurses they produced.
"All trainee nurses are contracted, on completion of their training, a service obligation equal to the period of study is made mandatory," she said.
Nkonyeni said the provincial health department supported the recent salary increases for nurses.
The minister of health recently announced a 23percent salary increase for professional nurses following the public sector strike.
Low salaries and bad working conditions are said to be the reasons for the high exodus of South African professional nurses to other countries.