A three-day national nursing summit has developed a plan of action to improve the profession, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said on Thursday.
He said his concern would now be to ensure the implementation of the plan called the “Nursing Compact and Roadmap”.
In a document titled “The Final Compact”, the nursing sector, which had gathered in Sandton since Tuesday, said it recognised that it was the engine of an effective health system and played an important role in service delivery.
It reaffirmed that the re-engineering of the healthcare system must drive the focusing of service delivery and developments in the nursing profession within the District Health System.
This would be based on multi-disciplinary teams of clinically competent professionals, community ward-based and the effective implementation of the national school-based primary health care system led by nurses.
The sector further urged the Department of Health to establish a task team that would develop and implement a comprehensive national policy on nursing education and training that would examine the new nursing qualifications framework.
The task team would also look into student status, funding models, positioning of public and private nursing education, and norms and standards for nursing and specialised skills.
In a bid to produce clinically competent nurses, the sector asked the Department of Health to develop, implement and allocate adequate resources for a national nursing educator and nurse manager development programme.
They further called for a review of the occupation specific dispensation (OSD) and other financial incentives for all categories of nurses and ensure alignment of remuneration with other health professionals in health care.
The sector said an urgent establishment of dedicated structures to deal with nursing issues at national, provincial and district levels with executive decision-making powers was needed.
Motsoaledi’s department was also urged to prioritise the creation of a conducive environment for student learning.
The sector requested that standardised white uniforms be issued to nurses in both the public and private sectors to enhance hygiene.
Also on the list of the Compact plan was the call for the Department of Health to give urgent attention to the revitalisation of nursing education institutions, accommodation and clinical facilities.
The Compact raised concerns around staffing norms, funding and filling of vacant nursing posts as well as management of moonlighting in the nursing sector.
Also on the nursing sector’s list of concerns was the negative image and their position in the community.
In a bid to restore the image of the profession, the sector included the Nurses’ Pledge in the Compact which read that the health of patients will be their first consideration and that they will “maintain the utmost respect for human life”.
Motsoaledi said capital resources to resolve most of the issues, including infrastructure related concerns stated in the Compact, were available.
He, however, said the issues of student stipends and new uniforms for nurses were still to be discussed and allocated budgets.
“The whole country will be watching us very closely to see if we translate our statements and commitments into reality.
“Failing them is not an option,” Motsoaledi said.
“It is crucial and highly symbolic that this compact and roadmap is adopted on the day we join the rest of the world in marking World Health Day today [April 7],” he said.
Motsoaledi said access to quality healthcare was a universal right “and we are glad that in marking this important day we are also able to say to South Africans we are committing ourselves to improving the way in which we deliver healthcare”.
He also pledged that his department’s leadership, including provinces, would spare no effort in ensuring that they implemented the outcomes of the summit and worked together with the nursing sector “to restore the dignity of the nursing profession”. — Sapa