Nursing our colleges back to health

With just one year to go before South Africa’s new nursing and training curricula are implemented, the Committee was briefed by the National Department of Health (NDoH) on just how ready it is to roll out the new programmes, and how it intended to address the challenges of inadequate infrastructure at health institutions to accommodate clinical training programmes.

The new curriculum will provide better qualifications and training to address specific needs. Efforts are also being made to end the fragmentation and inequality of services at nursing colleges, which dates back to the apartheid era. Colleges and training facilities within hospitals are being upgraded and reopened in preparation for the new tranche of student nurses.

The new curriculum will offer a three year diploma in general nursing which will provide a wider scope of practice and will better equip nurses to address specific needs. Ms Nonhlanhla Makhanya, Government Chief Nursing Officer for South Africa: National Department of Health (NdoH) commented in her briefing to the committee that the department is collaborating with the Department of Labour and the bargaining chamber to improve conditions and services for nurses.

She gave an update on the current status and number of number of nursing colleges, satellite campuses and nursing schools in the nine provinces. The overall total of 138 facilities was made up of 16 nursing colleges, 32 satellite campuses and 90 nursing schools.

The Portfolio Committee made several recommendations to the Department, including that the nursing profession should be prioritised, and attention should be directed to the well-being of nurses. The Committee said it was important for the Department to meet with the heads of provincial and district health facilities to establish the needs of each province. The Committee was assured that the deployment of nurses was taking place successfully, especially in areas affected by shortages of health professionals.

I am encouraged by these developments. South Africa has had a reputation of being a source of excellent nurses, many of who choose to work overseas. I’m hoping that the new curriculum, coupled with the demands for excellence and fair pay in our health sector, will help to keep that talent in our own country.

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