The shortage of nurses threatens the health system

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Teboho Chakela (professional nurse) and Sherian Sirsang (main professional nurse: intensive care unit) from Mediclinic Bloemfontein.Photo: Teboho Setena

South Africa needs 26,000 nurses to meet growing demand.

That’s according to Dr. Sharon Vasuthevan, head of education at Life Healthcare. She raised the issue again when celebrating International Nurses Day on May 12.

Vasuthevan said the group had set a goal of training 3,000 nurses a year as part of the fight against shortages, locally and globally.

She said concerted efforts to stem the shortage resulted in 900 students graduating.

“The challenge we face is that we are not training as many nurses as the country requires.

“Our ambition is to dramatically increase enrollment,” she said, and stressed that the private-public sector must accelerate nurse education to meet growing demand.

Group chief executive Peter Wharton-Hood highlighted the fact that the Covid-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on the profession since it emerged in 2020. Dozens of nurses have died as a result of the pandemic.

“The Covid-19 pandemic reminds us of the essential role that nurses play in the health sector.”

SA’s 2030 strategy for human resources for health has further raised a signal regarding the shortage of nurses.

According to this strategy, by 2025 the country will face a shortage of about 34,000 registered nurses if no immediate action is taken.

The shortage has seen nurses work long hours in the public sector, seeing dozens of patients in clinics and hospitals.

However, contrary to this, in March the South African government excluded many medical professions – doctors and nurses – from the published list of critical skills.

The government has been criticized by various sectors including the Hospital Association of South Africa (Hasa) with Dr Dumisane Bomela, chief executive of Hasa, pointing out that skills development in the medical professions has stalled in recent years. years.

Ironically, Joe Phaahla, Minister of Health, strongly warned during the presentation of his budget vote on May 10 that South Africa faces a critical shortage of health professionals, pointing to a doctor-to- patient of 1 doctor for 3,198 people.

Teboho Chakela, a professional nurse, and Sherian Sirsang, a senior professional nurse in the intensive care unit at Mediclinic Bloemfontein, are happy to save lives.

Chakela’s career spans more than 22 years after giving up teaching. He hails from Kroonstad and Sirsang from Dubai.

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