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2018 Media Statements

NEHAWU Statement Post The Nurses Seminar

Friday November 16, 2018.

The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union [NEHAWU] convened its 1st nurse’s seminar as directed by the December 2017 Central Executive Committee [CEC] from the 13th to the 14th November 2018 in Johannesburg, Gauteng Province. The seminar was convened under the theme “Accelerate transformation of nurses’ fraternity to advance primary health care”.

The seminar was addressed by the President of COSATU, Acting Registrar and CEC of the South African Nursing Council, the Chief Nursing Officer and the Director General: Department of Health on the first day. On the second day it was addressed by the Minister of Health before breaking into commissions. Delegates deliberated on a myriad of issues including the building of our organisational capacity to veraciously confront challenges faced by nurses on a day to day bases, the transformation of the nursing fraternity, primary health care and the National Health Insurance, and also zoomed into issues of governance, leadership, legislation and policy in the nursing fraternity.

The seminar was a resounding success as it provided a platform for the national union to thoroughly scrutinize the challenges that currently engulfs the health sector especially nursing as a profession. The aim of the summit was to find strategic and effective ways to better the conditions of our members and the service they provide to the citizenry. The central focus of the seminar was to highlight the pitfalls of the closure of vacancies in key sites of the delivery of public services such as hospitals and clinics where the under-staffed nursing cadre is forced to do the work of cleaners and porters in addition to their already huge responsibilities that they carry in their duties.

The seminar provided nurses from across the country and all levels of healthcare delivery, with an opportunity to enriching the outcomes with direct experiences, hence we emerge from this seminar more resolute and purposeful in our pursuit of our strategic objectives of accelerating the transformation of nurses’ fraternity to advance primary healthcare.

Armed with progressive resolutions, the national union will hit the ground running in implementing nation-wide campaigns that will activate the nursing component of the membership of the union in vigorous programme to reach to the larger population of nursing workers in the country to defend the nursing profession itself and its stature.

As an immediate task the national union will drive a national campaign to improve the working conditions of nurses that continuously suffer exploitation and worsening conditions of service. A national campaign against deteriorating standards in different work places across provinces in the public sector will target the dangerous Occupational Health and Safety conditions that Nurses in particular face in their workplaces as specific to them as health care professionals charged with carrying decisive tasks at the point of delivery of health care

As NEHAWU, we collectively recognise that the nurses in the country continue to work in unsafe conditions and are faced by lack of psychosocial support from the employer which is critical because of the physical and other forms of risk that the nurse’s face and therefore the national campaigns for the working conditions must place these issues at the fore.

As part of our national campaign towards improvement of the conditions of service of Nurses we will embark on a programme to force the government to build facilities in all hospitals that ensure the welfare of children of nurses as part of the overall benefits of the nurses as workers and professionals.

NEHAWU will conduct a systematic and thoroughgoing programme aimed at promoting and defending the National Health Insurance as our flagship programme for transformation of health based on mass mobilisation inside the union as well as progressive forces in society in general. We shall engage the national and provincial governments on making resources available on running campaigns on NHI, health promotion, building and participating in clinic committees and hospital boards. Furthermore, we call on the national department to take up the task and funding of the implementation of the Mandela-Castro Medical Training Programme as part of solidarity and expanding the number of skilled personnel that our public health care needs.

The system by which the South African Nursing Council administers and presides over the institutional professional affairs of the nursing profession prejudices nurses and causes great disorganisation and harming of career and professional prospects of nurses in the country. In this regard, the union from this seminar will embark on a programme through several official platforms and workplaces to defend the nurses from the continuing victimisation of nurses flowing from the dysfunctional nature of the affairs of the Nursing Council.

We support the current changes in the nursing education and training, reverting back to workplace practical learning. This means that there must be proper articulation between nursing education at the college level and higher education, and current curriculum in universities must incorporate a strong element of practical’s in workplace settings.

The internal capacity of the union will be ramped up through strengthening of the Nurses Forums in all our provinces so as to ensure that we deliver on the mission of revitalising our effectiveness in recruiting and educating more nurses as part of their being organised.

Moving forward we shall engage the department on the proposals from the Health Indaba development of the Human Resources for Health, including on the review process of the WISEN mechanism and we call for decisive action to be taken regarding managerial ill-discipline and poor performance by managers.

The national union shall organise annual national and provincial nurse’s day celebration to recognise the critical role nurses play in the health care system. Yesterday, NEHAWU also launched its nurse’s magazine which will be used to educate, inform, and capacitate our members on matters related to health in general and nursing in particular.

Issued by NEHAWU Secretariat
Zola Saphetha (General Secretary) at 082 558 5968;
December Mavuso (Deputy General Secretary) at 082 558 5969;
Khaya Xaba (NEHAWU Media Liaison Officer) at 082 455 2500 or
email: Visit NEHAWU website:

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