Johannesburg – The Limpopo department of health is under fire for failing to reopen nursing facilities, which will result in the three-year-long course losing its accreditation.
Health-sector unions have lambasted the department for failure to enrol new nursing students; employ qualified people to fill the posts that have been vacant for approximately nine years; reopen the now defunct college campuses of the Limpopo Nursing College and mismanagement.
The college has five campuses in the province, which are based in Sovenga, Thohoyandou, Waterberg, Giyani and Sekhukhune, and all the campuses reportedly face similar problems, which includes not enrolling new students.
“The coronavirus has exposed the department big time when it comes to the issues of shortage of nurses.
Dealing with issues happening at the existing campuses and reviving old campuses will play a vital role to create more jobs in the health sector,” said Moses Maubane, provincial secretary of the National Education, Health, and Allied Workers Union.
The Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa’s provincial secretary Jacob Molepo said the union had been trying to convince the institution to enrol new students since 2019, but to no avail.
“The college has been accredited to offer the new nursing diploma aimed at replacing the other old qualifications, but it has been reluctant to do so.
We have been engaging with the department of health on the matter for three years now but there is no clear indication on when will they start enrolling the students,” said Molepo.
“We want the department to allocate budget, which will allow the institution to recruit and train nurses under this new qualification,” said Molepo.
Molepo said there was a serious shortage of nurses in the province due to nurses who retired, those who passed away and others who had been transferred to other provinces, while some joined the private sector.
He said the shortage of nurses overburdened the few available nurses, which made some of them take early retirement.
He added that shortages of nurses denied communities access to health services because some were not able to provide 24-hour assistance.
When reached for comment the Limpopo department of health spokesperson Neil Shwikwambana said the critical issue at the college has the potential to lose accreditation of the three-year nursing course.
“This is because since we got accredited two years back, we have been unable to admit new entrants to the course due to financial challenges that we have been facing as a department, which by the way we have openly discussed over the years.
“Our focus currently is to try and get new entrants for the 2022 academic year so that we can keep the accreditation of the three-year nursing course.”
When asked about the news that the college registration might be cancelled, the South African Nursing Council spokesperson Sizeni Mchunu said she was not aware of it.
“We are not aware of the crisis you are referring to. All the five campuses have been accredited to offer a three-year diploma in the nursing programme,” said Mchunu.
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