KwaZulu-Natal Health MEC Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu says that the province has a severe shortage of healthcare workers which they will attempt to redress with a recruitment drive.
The MEC hopes to bring in nearly 5,000 nurses as her department ramps up their response to the COVID-19 health crisis.
KZN Health to employ close to 5000 nurses
“The department of health in KwaZulu-Natal has been extremely short-staffed when it comes to professional nurses, enrolled nurses and nurse assistants.”
“In one of our biggest and most significant HR recruitment drives ever, we have, as of this week, advertised 4,773 posts in the following categories: 2,408 professional nurses, 1,968 enrolled nurses, 230 general orderlies, 70 ward clerks and 97 ICU nurses.”
Isolation units near completion
Simelane-Zulu was addressing the media from Clairwood hospital in Durban, a facility that is undergoing refurbishment to allow it to isolate up to 154 patients.
Four of the planned six isolation blocks at the Durban hospital have been completed and include state-of-the-art monitoring technology.
Nurses entering the blocks will be scanned by a camera which will determine whether or not they are wearing a mask and also read and record their body temperature.
Anyone recording a high temperature will not be allowed into the isolation blocks. The nurse will then be subject to testing and isolation if necessary.
Democratic Nursing Organisation of SA (Denosa) provincial secretary Mandla Shabangu welcomed the measures brought in to combat COVID-19.
Shabangu would also question why it had taken so long for the department to institute a recruitment drive concisering that the province’s public hospitals were already short-staffed before the crisis hit.
“The establishment that we see here today shows us that the department is capable, but we do not know what was holding them back in ensuring that all facilities are changed to be like this one,” Shabangu said speaking on behalf of a group of unions.
Nurse jobs should be made permanent
Shabangu urged the MEC to make all the new positions permanent to eas the workload of healthcare professionals in KwaZulu-Natal.
“We appreciate that they have decided to employ more people — especially since the workload increases during [COVID-19]. To those contracts that they are offering to our people, we strongly believe that workload will not reduce because there has been a shortage [sic], so in six months these contracts must be made permanent.”
Simelane-Zulu said that her department have spent R1.5 billion upgrading hospitals and healthcare facilities across the province, but couldn’t say exactly how much was spent on the Clairwood upgrade.