Gauteng Business News

Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  02 Oct 2009

Business: Banning Of Labour Brokers a Mistake


Recent Gauteng Business News

The Gauteng Department of Health and Social Development wants to institute a plan to phase out agency staff at state hospitals. According to the trade union Solidarity this is not a good idea and will adversely effect patients and the provision of essential medical care.

The letter that caused Solidarity's reaction stated that nurses who were working for hospitals through labour brokers would have to be suspended. According to the notice, the services of enrolled nurses (nurses with a two-year qualification) and nursing assistants (nurses with a one-year qualification) will already be suspended at the end of this month. In addition, it was verbally communicated that the services of registered nurses (nurses with a four-year qualification) will be terminated at the end of November.

There is a massive shortage of nurses in the health industry in South Africa and according to Solidarity spokesperson Jaco Kleynhans, “Many nurses have a permanent job at a state hospital as well as a job at a labour broker. This gives nurses the opportunity to work more hours while also providing the hospital with access to nurses who would not otherwise have been available due to the critical shortage of trained nursing staff,” Kleynhans said.

Solidarity warned that the scrapping of labour brokers could push service delivery in hospitals, which is already unstable, over the edge. It would also place even more pressure on existing staff as well as specialist units such as the intensive care, maternity and trauma units. “In 2007, there were already 40,8 million South Africans without medical aid, of whom the majority had to rely on medical services in the public sector.”

The statistics do not support suspending the nurses we have, just because they work with labour brokers, either. A study done by solidarity in 2008 revealed there would be 32 300 vacant nursing positions available and only 19 300 new nurses to fill those position. So with a shortage on 3 000 nurses already on our hands, it would seem a little fool hardy to compound the problem.

by Nicholas Krige

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