/ 13 November 2007

DA decries nurse shortage at Helen Joseph’s ICU

There is a personnel shortage of more than 50% at the intensive care unit (ICU) at the Helen Joseph Hospital, the Democratic Alliance (DA) said on Tuesday.

The DA’s Gauteng health spokesperson Jack Bloom said 19 out of 35 posts were vacant.

”The Gauteng Health Department claims that the ICU ‘works optimally’, but I don’t see how this can be the case with a 54% vacancy rate,” said Bloom in a statement.

The personnel occupancy rate at the ICU was given to Bloom by Gauteng’s health minister, Brian Hlongwa, in a written reply.

Bloom said three nurses who work in the 10-bed ICU were not qualified, but according to the department they ”have acquired necessary and requisite skill through experience” and work under direct supervision of qualified staff.

The DA said the gaps were being filled by expensive ”agency nurses”.

”It would be far better to pay ICU nurses more so as to fill the vacancies, rather than paying out huge amounts for agency nurses.”

Bloom said in the case of the Helen Joseph Hospital, the hospital’s management needed to have the power to supplement the salaries of specialist nurses, rather than to be locked into the one-size-fits-all pay scales. – Sapa