To mark Nurses Day on Sunday, Hospersa, Nehawu and union federation Fedusa expressed their frustration with the sector.
The Health and Other Services Personnel Trade Union of SA (Hospersa) said it vowed to continue campaigning for an improved healthcare service and improved working conditions for nurses in both the public and private sectors.
“This annual celebration looks to highlight the important role nurses play in society and marks the anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth.
“The International Council of Nurses leads these celebrations, and this year’s theme is ‘Nursing: the balance of mind, body and spirit’,” the union said.
Hospersa spokesperson Kevin Halama said the role of nurses in clinics and hospitals ensured that primary healthcare reached the most vulnerable South Africans who depended on it the most.
“However, poor working conditions, especially in public health facilities, continue to be a thorn in the flesh in the delivery of quality healthcare to many of the country’s communities.
“A number of hospitals and clinics have been red-flagged to be in violation of safety standards, yet the government is moving at a snail’s pace in addressing the reported Occupational Health and Safety contraventions.
“There is also a high prevalence of workplace infections of tuberculosis, which is robbing the health sector of a skilled workforce that consists of predominantly nurses,” Halama said.
The Federation of Unions of SA (Fedusa) said it had very little to commemorate when its own membership are brutally faced with daily assaults and exposed to safety hazards that defeat the ideals of the protection of workers in their workplaces.
“This situation can longer be allowed to continue without urgent interventions, alongside the full participation of organised labour, so that in the end nothing is done for workers without workers,” Fedusa president Masale Selematsel said.
The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) expressed its gratitude to all the nurses “who continue to withstand the pressures and overcome numerous challenges in their workplaces while trying to hold the health system together”.
“Indeed, nurses are an integral part of the health system and their role in healthcare service delivery is much appreciated,” the union said.