Motsoaledi slams nurses' attitudes

Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi. Picture Credit: Kgothatso Madisa
Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi. Picture Credit: Kgothatso Madisa

Nurses with bad attitudes will be kicked out of their jobs when the National Health Insurance comes into effect.

This was a stern warning from Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi, who was addressing more than 500 nurses and their managers at a Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (Denosa) conference in Ekurhuleni.

Motsoaledi said basic improvements in the public health system were crucial for the efficiency of the proposed public health insurance.

Motsoaledi highlighted the apathy of nurses as a big problem that he planned to nip in the bud.

"I'm going to talk about the big elephant in the room, which I know some of you don't want to accept; the attitude of nurses towards their patients. When the NHI is up and running, there won't be any holy cows. We are going to slaughter every cow - from a nurse to a hospital manager. NHI cannot work if we have nurses with bad attitude."

Motsoaledi's strong words came as the Gauteng health department suspended a matron on Wednesday following allegations of racism.

Sowetan reported recently that five nurses at the notorious Letaba Hospital in NkowaNkowa, Limpopo, were suspended for allegedly hitting a patient with a cable.

The white paper on NHI, which was released late last year, proposed the conversion of the country's health system into a universal healthcare coverage in order to provide better medical care to the poor, who rely on the struggling state healthcare.

Currently, about 8million South Africans have medical aid, which Motsoaledi said was a punishment on the poor. NHI will be implemented over a 14-year period should it be signed into law.

The minister also lambasted poor planning, corruption, poor infrastructure, reckless financial management and supply chain management for crippling the public health system.

"Wrong people are being appointed in wrong places at wrong times. When it comes to the management of human resources and planning, let me be honest with you on this score, you [nurses] have performed much poorer than teachers.

"I used to be in education in 1994 where I used to work with teachers' unions. Everything was planned, and they would show me their presentations and plans to fill up positions, but that has never happened in the nursing profession. It's a nightmare now," said Motsoaledi, a former education MEC in Limpopo.

Denosa president Simon Hlungwani welcomed Motsoaledi's challenge and said they were already working on improving nurses' work ethics.

"We are committed to improve the situation and we have already started by assisting them through various programmes such as the Denosa Professional Institute and Leadership For Change, whose primary focus is to educate [them] on ethics so that we revitalise all these things such as staff attitudes."

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