Global Shortage of Speciality Nurses Being Addressed
Since 2009, when this DA-led government came into power, the vacancy rate has been decreased from 30% to 5%, the Western Cape Minister of Health, Theuns Botha, said on 30 October 2013 at the annual Western Cape Cecilia Makiwane Nurses' Recognition Awards ceremony in Stellenbosch. He said there is a shortage of specialised nurses globally, not just in the Western Cape or the country.
“The nurse shortages at our hospitals are specifically in the speciality areas such as oncology, theatre, trauma, midwifery and psychiatry. Western Cape Government Health has an operational human resource and nurse training plan to ensure that we achieve its objectives.”
An initiative of the national Ministry of Health, in partnership with the provincial departments, the award serves as motivation for nurses by recognising and rewarding service delivery excellence. Its purpose is to recognise the important role played by nurses, who are often overlooked and undervalued. The province identifies a winner, second- and first runner-up, who receive a monetary reward. The winner goes through to the national competition. The selection criteria includes living up to the nurses’ pledge and nursing ethics, going beyond the call of duty, having a positive attitude towards patients and colleagues, contributing to effective management and being part of a multi-disciplinary healthcare team.
Minister Botha said an entry level registered nurse earns average R170 400 per annum. The Western Cape has 21 977 qualified nurses. All our nurses must have a nursing qualification and be registered with the South African Nursing Council (SANC). The breakdown is as follows:
- 15 455 registered nurses
- 2 412 enrolled nurses
- 4 110 auxiliary nurses
In this financial year Western Cape Government Health provided bursaries to 2 055 students.
Programmes implemented in the Western Cape to attract new nurses into the sector:
- In 2010 the department started with nursing career road shows throughout the province, to involve municipalities, non-governmental institutions, Thusong centres, libraries and schools in the recruitment of nursing.
- This has been an annual programme targeting especially rural communities that would not normally get an opportunity to get information about nursing and its career opportunities first-hand.
- The department has also been instrumental in partnering with the Cape Careers Exhibitors Association (CCEA) that targets schools across the province, by holding career exhibitions throughout the year.
- In collaboration with the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) that has a nursing department, the Western Cape College of Nursing (WCCN) also holds Career Open Days in May at one of the CPUT campuses annually.
- Judging by the thousands of applications that CPUT and the WCCN receive yearly (with an increase in applications every year), these programmes have been extremely successful.
- The aim of these programmes is not just to target matriculants and school leavers who can be prospective candidates, but also to equip learners from grade 9 to make the right subject choices, when it comes to a career in nursing.