We're overworked and underpaid, say nurses at special schools in Gauteng

Nurses at special schools in Gauteng have complained about being overworked and underpaid. Stock image.
Nurses at special schools in Gauteng have complained about being overworked and underpaid. Stock image.
Image: 123RF / belchonock

Overworked, undermined and underpaid - this is how nurses working at special schools in Gauteng feel.

The nurses are employed by the provincial education department and work as healthcare givers to pupils while they are at school. The role played by the nurses depends on the needs of pupils at those schools.

“We administer medication to the pupils daily, attend to any injuries that they might have and also refer them for further medical attention should there be a need to do,” said one nurse, who spoke to SowetanLIVE's sister publication TimesLIVE on condition of anonymity.

Democratic Nursing Association of SA provincial coordinator Mamakgadi Kgonodi said this had been a long and ongoing dispute between themselves and the education department.

She said their members were not remunerated fairly.

“Nurses at special needs schools are not even receiving their annual performance bonuses like other employees because no-one is monitoring their performances,” she said.

Another nurse said the nurse to child ratio was too low.

“They only have one nurse at each school, which is a lot of work when you look at the fact that these are kids with special needs. At most schools, one nurse is responsible for more than 600 children. How is one supposed to give proper health care to so many children?"

Kgonodi said the union had been asking for a meeting with the department for years but said no response was forthcoming.

Gauteng education spokesperson Steve Mabona said the department’s allocation of nurses to special schools was not driven by the pupil numbers.

"Currently one nurse is allocated per special school with an additional nurse where special schools have hostels. It must be noted that not every learner in a special school uses or needs the services of the nurse."

Mabona added that the department was currently processing the outstanding grade progression payments to all qualifying employees.

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