SA nurses driven out by fight or flight situation

SOUTH Africa's nurses are less likely to stay in the profession over the next five years compared with their counterparts in other parts of the world.

SOUTH Africa's nurses are less likely to stay in the profession over the next five years compared with their counterparts in other parts of the world.

This according to research presented at the International Council of Nurses' 24th Quadrennial Congress (ICN) at Durban's Inkosi Albert Luthuli Convention Centre.

Democratic Nursing Organisation of SA general secretary Thembeka Gwagwa said on Wednesday the results found that when asked if they would still be in nursing in five years, only 33percent of nurses in South Africa said they were very likely "to do so".

The survey was part of an extensive global attitudinal survey that asked more than 2000 nurses around the world, including 200 in South Africa, about the challenges and opportunities facing nurses.

"Despite advances made so far in our democracy, significant challenges remain for South Africa's nurses in connection with the adequate and equitable distribution of healthcare infrastructure and human resources. In South Africa, with staggering disease rates and high patient-to-nurse ratios, it comes down to fight or flight.

"Do we allow the continued flight of nurses or do we fight to address their concerns and protect the healthcare system so we can provide quality to patients?" Gwagwa asked.

The research revealed that more than half of South African nurses (53percent) are overworked or their workload is worse, compared with five years ago.

South African nurses say they face time constraints that prevent them from spending as much time with individual patients as they think necessary. T he majority (87percent) say spending more time with individual patients would have a good effect on patient health.

"Nurses must be involved in crucial policy conversations as healthcare systems are growing, developing and changing," said ICN chief executive David Benton.

X