Media statement – For immediate release
Monday, 12 April 2021
The Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (DENOSA) in Limpopo held its Provincial Executive Committee (PEC) meeting from the 08th to the 09th April at Bolivia Lodge in Polokwane to deal with the number of issues affecting nurses in the province.
These issues include, among others, the withdrawal of circular 43 of 2020, Progress on Phase 1 Vaccine for Frontline Workers, budget cuts, shortage of staff especially professional nurses, suspension of employees in pursuant of Circular 43 of 2020, relocation of Mobile Clinics and training of nurses.
On the withdrawal of Circular 43 of 2020 on a new duty roster:
DENOSA welcomes the withdrawal of Circular 43 of 2020 following a lengthy battle between unions and the Department of Health in the province. The circular was not in the best interest of service delivery, but on saving costs which ends up denying our communities their basic human right of access to health service. It is our belief that the Department of Health has been saving costs by, deliberately, not filling vacant posts left by employees who went on pension deliberately, lost their lives or through resignations.
The Department further continued to save costs by appointing employees on Managerial positions on acting capacity for a long period without compensation, which contravenes DPSA policy on Acting. Failure to pay acting allowance to affected employees will leave the organization with no option other than to advice all nurses on acting positions to step down.
The PEC resolved that the item should be tabled at Limpopo Chamber demanding the filling of these vacant posts and payment of acting allowance to all nurses on acting positions in line with Public Service Regulation, Chapter 1Part VII, B.5.2 and DPSA Police on Acting.
The PEC further resolved on tabling the following agenda items at Limpopo Chamber: Overtime and Working hours to ensure that Department of Health develop Policy on Overtime and conclude Collective Agreement with Organized labour. The agreement will resolve our standoff with the Department on inclusion of Meal Interval and calculation of hours of employees performing 12-hour shifts in line with Section 11 of Basic Conditions of Employment Act 75 of 1997 as amended.
DENOSA further calls for the Department of Health to withdraw all suspension letters issued against employees in pursuant of withdrawal of Circular 43 of 2020.
On shortage of staff and further budget cuts by Treasury in the province leading to discontinuation of 24-hour service in most clinics:
DENOSA notes that the Department of Health has acknowledged the gross shortage of staff, particularly nurses, by appointing the 305 Post-community service nurses on a six month contract ending on the 31 July 2021. It is on that basis that DENOSA demands permanent appointment of the 305 Post-community service nurses.
The organization takes note of further budget cuts by Department of Treasury in the province with specific target on Compensation of Employees vote. Continuous budget cut for Department of Health denies our communities access to their basic human right to access health services. Most clinics are no longer providing 24-hours services due to shortage of personnel such as nurses and cleaners.
DENOSA calls for Limpopo Treasury to exempt the Department of Health from this continuous budget cut and to make provision for additional budget to cater for appointment of the newly qualified professional nurses on a permanent basis to strengthen human resource in the hospitals and clinics.
Appointment of additional nurses and cleaners will ensure that most of clinics provide 24-hour services to our communities, in particular rural areas.
On the progress of Phase 1 of Vaccine rollout on frontline workers:
The PEC noted the presentation made by the Department of Health during our Joint Committees meeting on the progress made on Phase 1 of Vaccine rollout targeting frontline workers, majority of whom are nurses. DENOSA was disappointed and concerned with the slow progress in implementing Phase 1, as the province has managed to vaccinate only 20285 frontline workers from both public and private health sector so far.
The number of employees vaccinated is not even half of the total number of healthcare workers in the Province. It is an open secret and not practical for the province to complete Phase 1 rollout by the end of April 2021 considering that most of nurses and other healthcare workers in the clinics are not vaccinated yet.
DENOSA demands completion of Phase1 of Vaccine Rollout to cover all Frontline workers to protect them before Rolling out Phase 2 as they will be expected to vaccinate our community members who have been waiting patiently.
On relocation of Mobile Clinics:
The PEC has learnt with serious concern the abuse of power by some of PHC Managers who are intending to disrupt mobile health services by forcing and bulldozing nurses to relocate to fixed clinics without following correct procedures. The relocation changes terms and conditions of these employees, which requires the employer to consult with union(s) in line with Section 64(4) of the Labour Relations Act 66 of 1996.
DENOSA calls on PHC Managers to stop tossing nurses around but to start consultation with union(s) in the Department of Health. Refusal by Managers to sign trip authorization forms to allow nurses to visit service point denies our poor communities access to health service, particularly the elderly and those on chronic medications which aggravates their health conditions.
On training of nurses:
The organisation welcome the extension of study leave for students who couldn’t manage to complete Bridging course programme within prescribed period considering that the programme is being phased out .We call for the Department of Health and Limpopo College of Nursing to accelerate pace on the implementation of newly accredited nursing programmes in the province.
Issued by DENOSA Limpopo
For more information, contact:
Jacob Molepo, Provincial Secretary
Mobile: 072 576 4979
Lesiba Monyaki, Provincial Chairperson
Mobile: 072 578 2753