Nurse. Picture: iSTOCK
Nurse. Picture: iSTOCK

Responding to reports last week that only privately funded first-year students would be accepted at nursing colleges in Gauteng, the provincial Health Department now says there will be an intake of new state-funded students at three nursing colleges this year, but that their academic year will be delayed.

However, on Tuesday, department spokesperson Lesemang Matuka said the decision was not final, but was an update of the situation at the time.

"At the time, I said the department could not afford R57m needed for nurses in the first year. But I stated that the decision [on this] had not been taken‚" Matuka told TimesLIVE. "The question that was asked was whether the financial problems could have an effect on the funding of nurses. My answer was that‚ yes‚ the department at the present moment is under financial strain and it cannot afford that amount. At that time, the MEC had not made a decision on this."

It was reported last week that‚ despite a shortage of nurses‚ 700 nursing candidates would not be able to study for a four-year diploma at three Gauteng colleges this year because the provincial health department could not afford to fund their studies. Matuka said that was not the case.

"Now the MEC has made a decision on this. The nursing candidates will be taken in but the academic year will be delayed ... [and] will only start at the beginning of the department’s financial year. This only applies to candidate nurses doing their first year‚" Matuka said.

The three affected institutions are the Ann Latsky‚ Chris Hani Baragwanath, and SG Lourens nursing colleges.

DA Gauteng MPL Jack Bloom lamented the delay. "I sympathise with angry students who gathered yesterday outside the Chris Hani Baragwanath and Ann Latsky nursing colleges. They are victims of poor planning and the ongoing health budget crisis. It is unacceptable that nurse training is disrupted and delayed for students who qualified after a rigorous selection process."

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