NHI, the government’s plan for universal health coverage, rests heavily on nurse-led care. Yet where these nurses will come from is a mystery. – Editorial (Business Day 20 January 2023).
In 2019 SA was already short as many as 62 000 nurses, according to a report by the Hospital Association of SA and McKinsey. According to SA Nursing Council statistics, almost half the registered nurses are set to retire in the next 15 years. Even private-sector patients, usually buffered from the worst of SA’s state-led crises, have thousands of vacancies for specialist posts in private hospitals.
“Despite the pressing need for new nurses, the government agencies involved in approving education institutions and training programmes created such a tortuous path to accreditation that they triggered a two-year hiatus in which no students could start training in specialist nursing fields such as theatre, ICU and midwifery, and only a handful will do so in 2023.”
“The Health Minister is responsible for tackling the nursing crisis, but there is little sign of his interest in the human tragedy his inaction will create. The Minister must intervene to allow the private sector to train the nurses the country desperately needs. Need we remind him that lives are at stake?”