The Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (Denosa) in Limpopo has expressed concern over the shortage of nurses to fight the surge in COVID-19.

The nurses’ union says the Capricorn, and Vhembe districts are hit the hardest.

“We further take note of Limpopo Health Department’s efforts to strengthen capacity in the fight against the pandemic by establishing additional COVID-19 beds to accommodate many patients who need in-patient care. We believe that these additional beds will not save the lives of community members due to shortage of nurses who are required to take care of patients admitted in the hospitals. The available nurses are already overstretched, exhausted and frustrated due to the overwhelmed health system in the province,” says provincial secretary, Jacob Molepo.

Denosa says the health department was ill prepared for the resurgence of coronavirus infections.

“(The) shortage of healthcare workers is mainly caused by failure to fill vacant nursing posts left by nurses who went on pension, transferred or lost their lives. The situation is exacerbated by the impact of COVID-19, which confined more than hundred nurses either on self- quarantine or isolation.”

The union has also expressed worry over the department’s decision to dismiss more than 350 newly qualified professional nurses, who are due to complete their community service on the 31st of this month. 

“Limpopo Department of Health is now serving as a training agent for other provinces such as Western Cape, Eastern Cape, Gauteng and private healthcare institutions which are benefiting from professional nurses trained and dumped on the streets despite severe shortage in the public hospitals and clinics. The Limpopo Health Department trained and dumped about 700 professional nurses who were recruited by other provinces and private healthcare institutions, Denosa Limpopo.

The union is urging the Department of Health to resolve shortage of nurses and other Healthcare Workers through:

  • Absorption of 368 professional nurses who were issued with letters to terminate their contract at the end of January 2021.
  • Location and appointment of Post-Community Service Professional Nurses who were trained and dumped by Limpopo Department of Health in 2019 and 2020.
  • Implementation of Circular 39 of 2020 by appointing 1362 Professional nurses, 167 Staff Nurses and 102 Nursing Assistants as advertised.
  • We believe that additional beds are required to strengthen the province’s capacity to deal with the resurgence.  

During his address to the nation on Monday night, President Cyril Ramaphosa said they are filling vacant posts at the country’s healthcare facilities.

Limpopo has more than 38 878 COVID-19 infections and 677 deaths.

The provincial government has said hospitals will sent patients who refuse to be transferred to hospitals in other parts of the province back home.