KZN Health MEC says job market facing a shortage of healthcare professionals

KwaZulu Natal Health MEC, Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu. Picture: Berea Mail

Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu says psychologists, physiotherapists, pharmacists and radiographers are among the professionals of which there is a severe shortage in the job market.

KwaZulu-Natal Health MEC Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu has said there is a shortage of some health professionals in the job market.

Simelane-Zulu was on Friday engaging with members of the public during her department’s Lunch Time Chat broadcast on social media.

The MEC said the Covid-19 pandemic had afforded the department an opportunity to employ health care professionals and workers and that even before the advent of the pandemic, the staff complement at public clinics and hospitals had not been enough.

Simelane-Zulu pointed out that one doctor and one professional nurse cannot run an entire ward which also needs cleaners, orderlies, and nursing assistants, among others, to be run efficiently.

The advent of the Covid-19 pandemic forced the provincial department to approach KwaZulu-Natal Premier, Sihle Zikalala, to source funds for employing more healthcare workers, Simelane-Zulu said.

The department was allocated R1.5 billion to employ healthcare workers and 8456 posts, including professional nurses, staff nurses, administration clerks, and general orderlies, among others, were filled, the MEC said.

Simelane-Zulu said there was a shortage of professional nurses in Intensive Care Units and high care units, as well as psychologists, physiotherapists, pharmacists and radiographers, among others.

The Covid-19 pandemic also afforded the department to do “translations”, which is when a healthcare worker employed as an enrolled nurse who, after two years of studying, is then “translated” into a new position when new posts open up, and they are moved to the next level, with their salaries slightly increased, Simelane-Zulu said.

She said due to money issues, for years the department could not do such translations.

A total of 1030 enrolled nurses were translated, Simelane-Zulu said, adding that this means “gaps” were opened, which were filled.

Simelane-Zulu said all those employed during the Covid-19 pandemic signed six months contracts because the “money we got was in relation to six months” and that the department has approached Zikalala to request for these contracts to be extended because no one knows when the pandemic will come to an end.

In the next two weeks, the department will look at how long  the contracts should be extended for, how many workers’ contracts should be extended, how many employees’ contracts should be extended, and at what cost, Simelane-Zulu said, adding that on the third week the department will then make a presentation to Zikalala.

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