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DENOSA Eastern Cape to lead nurses march to provincial health offices in Bhisho

Media statement  
Friday, 5 February 2016 
The Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (DENOSA) in Eastern Cape will be leading a march by nurses of the province to the provincial department of health office in Bhisho on 18 February to hand over a memorandum of demands in improving the health services in the provinces’ facilities and to object to the Department’s plan to further reduce nurses in facilities. 
DENOSA held a meeting of all its shop stewards in the province who represent nurses in the facilities on 28 January 2016 and resolved that the only remaining avenue is for nurses and students to hold a march to the department. DENOSA is appalled by the working conditions of nurses and other health workers and the incompetence of the department in dealing with urgent nursing matters in the province. 
“Nurses of Eastern Cape are making headlines for all the wrong reasons. It is reported daily that nurses commit professional misconduct and no one cares to know the root causes of this. DENOSA has done thorough investigation and concluded that it is wrong and misleading to put the blame squarely on the shoulders of nurses about these incidents. The working conditions are so bad to such that nurses become prone to committing the professional misconducts,” says DENOSA Acting Provincial Secretary in Eastern Cape, Khaya Sodidi. 
The department had failed dismally in addressing the working conditions of nurses. The chronic shortage of staff and working equipment remain unattended and this compromises the quality of nursing care to patients. The nurses are working under dire conditions which expose them to medico-legal hazards. Once there is a patient incident, the department moves swiftly to discipline a nurse, disregarding the plight that nurses are facing. DENOSA is condemning in the strongest terms the negligence and bad behaviour by those few nurses who disobey the Nurses’ Pledge in serving the patients. 
But the fact remains that due to severe shortage of staff, nurses work beyond their capacity and they become exhausted which leads to patient incidents.  
The poor nursing education is also contributing to the patient incidents. The nursing education has deteriorated over the years. The infrastructure of the colleges is so poor that students are unable to focus fully on their studies. Students today are more worried about accommodation than focusing on their studies due to poor or non-existence of nurses’ home. The students are forced to rent outside hospitals, making them easy targets to thugs and exploitation. This is surely affecting the academic performance of the students negatively. After completion of the course, students get allocated to various health institutions to do community service for a year without any supporting programme. Due to shortage of staff, these community service practitioners are left alone to run the healthcare services as inexperienced as they are. They lack proper guidance in order to make them competent nurses. This surely, contributes to the patient incidents during their professional career
While the health institutions are faced with the shortage of staff, some managers force nurses to carry out non-nursing duties that are supposed to be done by the support staff. The nurses are forced to sweep and mop, dish out for patients and become porters. Some institutions are forcing midwives that are not trained to do theatre procedures to scrub for caesarian sections. Nurses are bearing the brunt of the shortage of staff and there are no signs that the department is willing to address this any time soon. It has become a norm that one midwife looks after four mothers that are in progressive labour which results to poor management of the mothers and that may result to incidents. The department is refusing to release nurses to go and further their studies in order to improve their nursing skills due to shortage of staff.
“The relationship between the Department and nurses has reached an all-time low level. The department created a social distance by unilaterally implementing policies that have adverse effects to nurses without consulting them. The nursing managers [institutional] are also complaining that most of the big decisions are imposed on them and those who dare to challenge these decisions are easily targeted for victimization. The issue at hand now is the Migration Plan that goes with Review of Organogram. While DENOSA is complaining that there was no consultation on this organogram, the department is arrogantly continuing to implement it. Senior nursing managers are complaining that this organogram is not addressing the shortage of staff but it is rather reducing the already lean current staff,” explains Sodidi.
This means that once this organogram is fully implemented, we will see less nurses being employed while the rate of burden of diseases is escalating at an alarming rate. It is therefore impossible to expect nurses to perform optimally under these conditions. The department is not only undermining the collective agreements it signed with organised labour, but it is also defiant in implementing the decisions taken by Health Portfolio Committee in addressing some of the challenges faced by the health institutions. So we are dealing with arrogant senior managers and we are therefore calling for national department of health to intervene and put the province under administration, section 100, for the sake of patients and community members.   
Issued By Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (DENOSA) Eastern Cape
For more information, contact:
Khaya Sodidi, Acting Provincial Secretary
Mobile: 082 775 7734
Land Line: 041 484 7323/4
Facebook: DENOSA Eastern Cape