Nurses mourn for profession

Nurses hold lamps as they read their pledge yesterday to reaffirm their commitment to their calling. Photo: SANDILE NDLOVU
Nurses hold lamps as they read their pledge yesterday to reaffirm their commitment to their calling. Photo: SANDILE NDLOVU

A group of Limpopo nurses snubbed the International Nurses' Day celebrations led by Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi in Seshego yesterday.

Members of a pressure group called the Young Nurses Indaba (YNI) stood outside the venue dressed in black, holding placards.

The group said they refused to take part in the celebration because nurses were forced to endure terrible conditions. Provincial coordinator for the YNI Solly Baloyi said they had decided to mourn instead of celebrating.

"Wearing black is a message that we are sad and we are mourning for this profession. The profession is no longer respected by the department," Baloyi said. He said nurses had the biggest work load due to staff and resource shortages.

"We cannot continue like this because communities are suffering," Baloyi said.

Cathy Letsoalo, a nurse from Bela Bela, said she personally had to assume the duties of a porter due to dire staff shortages.

"We are working under unbearable conditions," Letsoalo said. 

She said the department must review their salaries because nurses are underpaid despite their heavy work load.

Meanwhile, a sea of nurses dressed in their white uniforms listened attentively to Motsoaledi as he delivered his keynote address inside the Ngoako Ramatlhodi indoor sports centre.

The occasion was marked by musical performances, while Limpopo MEC Dr Phophi Ramathuba presented an award in honour of Patricia Thanyani, a nurse who was recently killed after she was attacked by a patient at the Hayani Psychiatric Hospital near Thohoyandou.

While encouraging nurses to treat patients with respect, Motsoaledi referred to the outcomes of a survey commissioned by government five years ago reflecting an 80% failure rate on cleanliness of facilities and the attitudes of staff.

"When the results came I nearly fell off my desk (sic) when looking at them," Motsoaledi said.

Motsoaledi said now the establishment of South Africa's first health ombudsman office would act as a watchdog against the poor treatment of patients.

Last week, former UKZN vice-chancellor Professor Malegapuru Makgoba was announced as South Africa's first health ombudsman.

Motsoaledi said although the majority of nurses had proven to be compassionate and caring, more had to be done to improve the situation.

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