Picture: SUPPLIED/ESSENTIAL MED
Picture: SUPPLIED/ESSENTIAL MED

Virtually all SA’s newly qualified nurses have been placed in public sector posts for 2019, a senior health department official assured MPs on Wednesday.

In contrast to the last-minute scramble to find positions for new nurses in previous years, the process of placing nurses who qualified in 2018 has gone smoothly, according to the department’s chief operating officer, Gail Andrews.

A total of 3,535 nurses qualified in 2018, of whom 3,470 had already been placed, she told parliament’s portfolio committee on health. SA nurses have been given priority, and the handful of nurses who have not been offered posts in the public sector are foreigners who are studying in SA, she said.

All 248 bursary holders from Limpopo have been placed in posts in the province, she said. Bursary holders are required to work for a period in the province that funded their studies.

The department’s chief nursing officer, Nonhlanha Makhanya, briefed MPs on ongoing reforms to nursing qualifications, and the rationalisation of nursing colleges.

Nursing colleges fall under the jurisdiction of provincial health departments, which determine their five-year enrolment plans based on their needs and the available resources.

Following several years of reorganisation, each province now has a single nursing college with satellite campuses, and the nursing schools previously located in hospitals are being converted into clinical training units or sub-campuses, she said. The South African Military Health Services also runs a nursing college.

From 2020, a new three-year diploma in general nursing will be offered by nursing colleges. This will be the entry-level nursing qualification, and students can obtain advanced diplomas in skills such as midwifery or oncology. Studies that lead to qualifying as an enrolled nurse or staff nurse will not be offered after 2019.

Makhanya said general nurses will be more highly skilled than enrolled and staff nurses, and will not require supervision from more senior nursing staff.

In line with legislative requirements, health minister Aaron Motsoaledi has formally requested the higher education and training minister to declare the nursing colleges as public higher education colleges, she said.  All the provinces except Northern Cape have already submitted their programmes for accreditation with the Council for Higher Education, she said.

Makhanya said universities are also revising their nursing curriculums to meet the requirements of the new nursing qualifications.

kahnt@businesslive.co.za