The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union [NEHAWU] notes and welcomes the announcement of the creation of more than 5300 posts for health workers, both in clinical and in support staff throughout the country by the Minister of Health, Dr. Aaron Motsoaledi. The announcement was made after the meeting of the National Health Council which was convened on the 6th – 7th December 7, 2018.
This announcement presents a platform for the national union to launch a more aggressive campaign against the non-filling of funded posts in the public service and to decisively confront the scourge of understaffing. In itself, the announcement encapsulates an underlying correct economic policy logic, i.e. that the filling of posts and spending on human resources is indeed an investment that also inheres the positive benefit of the multiplier-effect contributing in the stimulation of economic activity. This is in marked contrast to the Neoliberal notion that narrowly conceives human resources as a cost that must be reduced, even in the public service where clinicians and other supportive categories of health workers are indispensable in rendering better health care.
The filling of posts will take place in January 2019 after both the President Stimulus Package and the Presidential Health Summit emphasized the need increase spending in both health and education including the creation of more posts. We are, however, concerned by the slow place in implementing this decision as the Stimulus Package was announced more than two months ago. As NEHAWU, we hold a strong view that 5300 posts are not adequate and that more posts would have to be filled in order for the public health sector to perform at its optimum best.
We applaud the fact that a large chunk of the 5300 new posts to be created will allocated to employing more nurses. This further validates the assertion by our Nurses Seminar convened last month that the country needs more nurses in order to ensure that hospitals and clinics are able to deal with their workloads. Moving forward, we will concretise and put into practice our plan with the Department of Health of ensuring that there is an urgent training and placement of more nurses in the public healthcare sector.
The national union believes that understaffing is one of the major causes of the crisis in the public healthcare sector after outsourcing, procurement, servicing of medical equipment and human resources. The public healthcare is the most affected sector with most clinics and hospitals barely functioning. Our members and workers are subjected to perform duties that are meant for five other people. A nurse is forced to be a porter, administrator and caregiver at the same time. The end result of this is an overworked staff and the minimisation of the quality of service delivery.
Currently, the public healthcare sector is extremely understaffed yet there is a huge number of funded vacant posts not filled, in this regard, the national union calls for the immediate filling of these vacancies as soon as possible as this has a huge bearing on service delivery. With the imminent implementation of the National Health Insurance [NHI] the country will need a skilled workforce and specialised skills to ensure that the needs of the public are adequately addressed.
We welcome the special attention to the North West Province considering the dire state of the public healthcare system in that Province. Our strike against the North West Department of Health earlier this year revealed that some institutions did not have enough stock of drugs and that patients are usually turned away without receiving any medication for their ailments.
While we welcome the funding that is to be made available to immediately buy beds and linen to address some of the shortages in our hospitals we also hope government will also look into the shortages of medicines in public healthcare institutions. Our strike in the North West also revealed that the depots often ran out of critical chronic medication including Antiretrovirals for patients with HIV/AIDS.
Whilst we welcome this short-term intervention, we call on government to indicate further details as to how the other vacancies are going to be filled going-forward. Similarly, we appreciate that the subheading of the statement says “Special Emphasis on Human Resources for Health”, nonetheless we call on the minister and National Health Council to also provide details on other elements of the stimulus package, namely on the procurement of hospital beds and hospital linen to ensure transparency and accountability.
As NEHAWU, we will intensify our demand for the filling of all vacant posts in the public service especially in the public healthcare sector.
Issued by NEHAWU Secretariat
Zola Saphetha (General Secretary) at 082 558 5968;
December Mavuso (Deputy General Secretary) at 082 558 5969;
Khaya Xaba (NEHAWU Media Liaison Officer) at 082 455 2500 or
email: email@example.com Visit NEHAWU website: www.nehawu.org.za