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The North West health department has set aside R70million to upgrade the two main nursing colleges in the province, with the aim of increasing the intake of nursing students.
Department spokesman Lesiba Molala said: "The money will go into building new classrooms, administration blocks and residences at the two colleges. The first phase of building a multi-purpose auditorium, including administration blocks, classrooms, and tutor blocks is under way at the Mmabatho college and will be completed in March next year." He said this would increase the intake of students from the current 140 to 1140.
The second project at Excelsior College in Klerksdorp will start in April next year.
"The department has 6734 nurses on its system and 1720 vacant posts. This includes professional nurses, chief professional nurses, nursing assistants and staff nurses. "This shortage is representative of many of the developing countries and our province is no exception," Molala said.
He added that since 1994 about 1035 students had graduated from the Mmabatho college and were absorbed into the department. Benefits such as scarce skills allowance and rural allowances were available to the nurses, particularly those who worked in rural areas.
"Our nurses are doing everything in their power to ensure that life and dignity of patients are preserved." The colleges admit students in mid-year and interested students should apply at the beginning of the year, he added. - Sapa