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International Nurses Day: Northern Cape nurses lament “toxic” work environment

Nurses from around the Northern Cape during a march to the office of the premier as part of the international nurses day(Picture by Olebogeng Molale)

As the world commemorated International Nurses Day yesterday, hundreds of nurses in the Northern Cape marched to the Premier's office to demand better working conditions.

Tumelo Mogorosi, a nurse from Kuruman was part of the march. She said she wanted to be part of the march because of the amount of pressure the job puts on her. The pressure she said, was so much that she even considered resigning from her work.

“On a normal day we end up having to see more than 20 patients, we work as porters and cleaners because the department is taking long to employ support staff. In the clinic I am working at it is difficult , and some of my colleagues end up having depression because of the condition that we are working in.”

The only reason she did not is because of her financial responsibilities.

Another nurse Kedibone Seleke said many nurses love their jobs “but the environment can be toxic.”

“Hence I am here today as a nurse to say enough is enough. The department of health must do better and improve the status of our health system. We are tired of lies by the MEC because this is not the first time we are raising these issues, but they are not addressed so the Premier should act and make sure that those who cannot do their jobs are removed from their positions,” said Seleke.

Retired nurse, Alleta Thupane, said she and other retired nurses were part of the march because they understood first hand what the younger nurses were going through. She said she worries that the pressure of working long hours and having to do work that is not part of one's contract would be too much for the younger nurses.

“We are here to support the nurses, because we were once those nurses and we understand their frustration very well. They are required to work very hard to save lives but it is difficult for them to perform their duties diligently as the province has a huge backlog of appointing nurses particularly those who have speciality. We humbly request that the Department of Health should fill all vacant posts,” said Thupane

Retired nurse Alleta Thupane representing the Retired Nurses fellowship Picture: Olebogeng Molale

Anthony Vassen, the Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (DENOSA) provincial secretary said there was very little to celebrate for the nurses.

“Unfortunately, there is nothing to celebrate in 2022... the government fails to prioritize health care services in our communities and they undermine nurses who are expected to deliver these health services in the province. Nurses died of Covid-19 because of corrupt officials and politicians who are more interested in filling their pockets than to ensure that nurses and other health workers were safe in their facilities” Vassen said.

He said DENOSA was tired of a “government that does not care about the well-being of our nurses, most of the time they are overwhelmed by the work they are doing because the Department of Health is dragging their feet to appoint and train young nurses. It is over three years now and we do not have specialised nurses in most of our health facilities around the province.”

The MEC of Health in the province, Maruping Lekwene, acknowledged the issues raised by the nurses and DENOSA.

“We have heard the nurses’ grievances and we will address them accordingly. We have set aside R40 million to make sure we close the gap and hire more staff to reduce the work load of our nurses, but we will also train more nurses this year,” said Lekwene.


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