Minister must explain reluctance to train nurses amidst shortage

Issued by Michele Clarke MP – DA Shadow Minister of Health
25 May 2023 in News

Note to editors: Please find attached soundbite by Michele Clarke MP.

The DA will demand that the Minister of Health, Dr Joe Phaahla, appear before Parliament to explain his Department’s apparent reluctance to work with the private sector to address the nursing crisis in South Africa.

This week it was revealed that the country has an estimated shortage of between 26 000 and 62 000 nurses. Furthermore, 47% of nurses are expected to retire within the next 15 years. In 2020, the ratio of nurses to patients was 1:213, yet only about 29% of nurses trained in the past decade have been appointed in the public health sector. On top of this, the South African Nursing Council (SANC) membership of 21 090 nurses was terminated due to non-payment in 2022.

Given the shocking reality of the public health sector in South Africa, it is unfathomable that the Department of Health has limited the training of nurses by the private health sector. Netcare has the capacity to train up to 3 000 nurses a year, yet they have only been accredited to train 800 nurses.

Nurses are the first line of defence. They are crucial to health care, yet the Department simply does not seem to take the shortage crisis seriously. Government has ignored the pleas and offers of assistance from the private health sector. Just like the ANC ignored the objections and concerns from opposition parties, the public, and health and other stakeholders when they steamrolled the destructive National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill through Parliament yesterday.

It is time Minister Phaahla presented his comprehensive and budgeted plans to address the nursing crisis to the parliamentary portfolio committee on health. He must explain why he’s ignoring offers of assistance from the private health sector.