Nursing union says fear pushing members with comorbidities into early retirement

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Many nurses with comorbidities have allegedly resigned or taken early retirement because of their fears of being exposed to the coronavirus. Daily News reports that the Democratic Nurses Organisation of South Africa KwaZulu-Natal secretary Mandla Shabangu claimed that despite the COVID-19 regulations stating vulnerable employees should be protected, the Health Department was moving at a slow pace to come up with a clear plan on how it caters for the health-care workers with comorbidities. This, he said, was why many nurses opted to resign or retire early.

However, provincial department spokesperson Ntokozo Maphisa said they were unaware of any workers leaving the profession because of COVID-19. “The department viewed this suggestion as an alarmist approach that is meant to spread doubt and fear among health workers,” he said.

Daily News says that it spoke to a few nurses who have resigned. One said she never thought she would leave the nursing profession under so much pressure. “I had to choose between my health and my job. I was not ready to leave, but I’m left with no choice. I have diabetes, a chronic condition that makes me vulnerable. I am leaving with a heavy heart, and after all the years I have dedicated to nursing,” she said.

Maphisa said the department had put several measures in place to support health workers, including making personal protective equipment available as well as retraining them on how to keep safe.

Dr Rishigen Viranna, Democratic Alliance provincial spokesperson on health and member of the KZN portfolio committee, said this was an indication the department was not catering for the personal, professional and psychological needs of its health-care workers, especially nurses who are front-line workers in the coronavirus pandemic.

Maphisa said unions and members of the health portfolio committee had a platform to raise any genuine issues.

 

Full Daily News report

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