Johannesburg – Today is Nurses’ Day, (12 May 2023), and the Public Servants Association (PSA) is appealing to all users of healthcare services “to treat nurses with respect and uphold their dignity”.
South Africa’s healthcare sector is facing numerous challenges, ranging from staff shortages, poor hospital management, poor remuneration, an aging nurse population, and the lack of basic resources, including essential medicines.
“A mere 280 000 nurses are tasked to ensure nursing services to more than 60 million citizens, whilst corruption, underspending, and fruitless and wasteful expenditure continue to impair service delivery in this sector,” lamented the PSA.
“These professionals are expected to perform their duties despite poor resources and crumbling infrastructure.
“Another critical challenge is the closure of Nursing Colleges throughout the country that strains the filling of 30 000 vacant nursing posts.”
Reports of attacks on healthcare workers are on the rise in provinces such as Gauteng, Mpumalanga, Free State, Eastern Cape, and Western Cape.
The PSA said healthcare workers, especially female nurses, were being attacked by frustrated members of the public.
The attacks include verbal and physical abuse, being held at gunpoint, and in extreme cases healthcare workers were gunned down.
“In a recent incident, a nurse in Limpopo was attacked, robbed, and raped by a criminal. Such attacks are unacceptable,” said the PSA.
The association called for more measures to be taken to enhance security at government medical institutions, including clinics and hospitals.
“Many nurses working under these circumstances are looking for greener pastures abroad, where South African nurses are highly regarded, especially in the United Kingdom and the Middle East,” said the PSA.
“This steady loss of qualified nurses, as well as the fact that some 9 000 nurses are lost every month owing to retirement or death calls for urgent intervention by the Department of Health.
“Failure to address this looming crisis will have irreversible consequences.
“The PSA calls on all citizens to value the country’s nurses and regard the sacrifices they make to provide critical services.”