Era of uncaring, impatient nurses is over - Zuma

Tuesday, April 5, 2011
Gabi Khumalo

Johannesburg - Government can build as many beautiful hospitals and clinics as it can but at the end of the day, the attitude of the people running the hospital counts, says President Jacob Zuma.

Addressing more than 2 000 nurses at a two-day National Nursing Summit this morning, Zuma said government's vision was to have staff in health facilities who receive members of the public warmly and who are always ready to provide assistance in an understanding and empathetic manner.

"Citizens should not be treated as if they are a burden or a nuisance by staff that is employed to serve them. The era of rude, uncaring and impatient civil servant or nurse must be a thing of the past, as we build a caring government and a caring society," said Zuma at the summit being held in Sandton Convention Centre.

Zuma, however, voiced satisfaction at the implementation of the Quality Improvement Plans to enhance service delivery in the public health sector.

The plans focus on six key areas that government wants to prioritise, includes change of attitudes, shortening the waiting times in receiving care and ensuring that all facilities are clean and tidy at all times.

"Health professionals must prevent the transmission of infections and cross-infections inside hospitals and clinics, and ensure a reliable provision of basic medicines and supplies," Zuma reiterated, noting that if its provisions are implemented, a visit to public health facilities will be more a tolerable and pleasant experience for people.

Giving an update on the revitalisation of 106 nursing colleges in the country to deal with the shortage of nurses, Zuma said a comprehensive audit of nursing colleges has been completed and the results confirmed that the training of nurses has been neglected and poorly coordinated over the years.

"The results have pointed to a need to enhance the infrastructure at these institutions to investigate the impact of the four-year training programme on the production of nurses for the public sector and to enhance the recruitment of nursing educators to improve the production of nurses," he said.

The President reiterated government's call for the appointment of the right personnel to senior positions in a bid to improve the health care system. Persons holding positions such as Heads of Department, Chief Financial Officers and hospital CEOs require the appropriate competency and qualifications.

"There are challenges in this regard in some provinces, where you find a mismatch of skills and even instances where people with no medical background are found in positions which require such a competency and qualifications."

Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane said the summit will help the profession reach new heights and help to discourage opportunists who take the profession after all else has failed for them.

"Go back to the good old days of nursing ... where a patient felt healed by just by drinking a cup of tea made by a nurse, where nurses used to sing and pray when coming in for night duty and asked patients how their day was and how did they sleep throughout the night," Mokonyane told nurses. - BuaNews

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