Strategic plan to revitalise nursing profession

Monday, March 11, 2013

Boksburg – Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi has unveiled the National Strategic Plan for Nurse Education, Training and Practice aimed at reconstructing and revitalising the nursing profession as part of the department’s efforts to improve health outcomes.

The plan follows the 2011 Nursing Summit, which culminated in a Nursing Compact, which strongly recommended improving nursing education, training and practice in order to strengthen the role played by nurses in achieving government’s vision of a long and healthy life for all South Africans.

Among the major challenges facing the nursing profession, identified during the summit, included nursing education and training, resources in nursing, professional ethos and ethics, positive practice environments, nursing human resources for health as well as governance, leadership, legislation and policy.  

Motsoaledi then appointed a special task team to develop a plan of action to address nurse education, training and practice by developing a Strategy for Nurse Education, Training and Practice with an implementation plan.

The objectives of the strategy are to:

  • Promote and maintain a high standard and quality of nursing and midwifery education and training;
  • Enhance and maintain professionalism and professional ethos amongst members of the nursing midwifery professions;
  • Promote and maintain an enabling, well-resourced and positive practice environment for nursing, midwifery and patients/clients throughout the lifespan;
  • Enable strong leadership at all levels of nursing and midwifery practice;
  • Guide the production of sufficient numbers and the appropriate categories of nurses required to deliver healthcare services within the policy framework for the healthcare system.

Speaking at the launch of the strategic plan on Monday, Motsoaledi called on nurses and stakeholders to unite and look at possible ways to ensure the successful implementation of the strategic plan for mutual benefits of the people of South Africa.

“The training of nurses is more efficient within the host environment next to the bed side in the nursing college and from there everything else will emerge. That is my guiding principle and I believe that everybody will understand and support this principle. An improvement in nursing education system is necessary to ensure that the current and future generations of nurses are able to provide safe, quality, care across primary healthcare.

He also urged them to understand the purpose and objectives outlined in the plan to enhance uniformity and standardised implementation in all provinces.

“The days must be over when provinces complain that the standard of quality of a nurse largely depends on which province they’ve studied. You need to develop and revitalise the profession to ensure that the nurses are equipped to address the disease burden population health needs within revitalised healthcare system in South Africa.”

He added that this is important as the country is busy implementing the National Health Insurance.

Motsoaledi further acknowledged the nursing profession in helping the country in achieving increasing life expectancy in a period of three years.

“One of the things that made us increase the life expectancy so miraculously is expand the HIV and Aids programme and we could not have done so without nurses. By February 2010, before the President launched the massive HCT campaign -- there were only 250 nurses in the whole country who were accredited to initiate ARV treatment without a doctor.

“With help of partners, we started training a large number of nurses and today, I’m proud to announce that there are now 10 000 nurses. There was no way South Africa could have achieved this with the help of doctors alone,” Motsoaledi highlighted.

He warned that all private nursing training colleges, which are not accredited, will be shut down in June.

Health professionals, who attended the event, commended the department for coming up with the plan, saying the regulations are long overdue.

Outgoing chair of the South African National Aids Council (SANAC), Nonhlanhla Makhanya said she was impressed with the clarity provided in the implementation framework.

“The clarification on the implementation framework is impressive. We would like to see the prominence of nurses in driving the implementation of the nursing strategy as a lesson that begins to demonstrate to the health professional at large,” said Makhanya.

South African Nursing Association Registrar, Tendani Mabunda said the issue of unaccredited nursing training colleges is a painful, adding that they have closed a number of them, but the challenge is that by that time, most people have already lost lots of money.

“Those who are accredited are told [by the council] to take a certain number of students but they decide to double the number of learners, hence they [learners] find it difficult to get placement for practicals.”

Out of 342 nursing colleges, 84 are inactive while renovations are underway for some collages including the buying of the basic equipment for effective training.

About 37 000 nursing students have enrolled in colleges in 2012. Five hundred retired nurses have been put on the department’s database and will be assisting with the schools health programme. –