Need for next generation of nurses

The nurses at Somerset Hospital are joined by Health MEC Dr Nomafrench Mbombo.

Nurses are the backbone of the healthcare system, but the province has an ageing nursing population and needs more young people who are willing to do the increasingly tough job.

That’s the message that came out of round-table discussion at Somerset Hospital in Green Point last week, where Health MEC Dr Nomafrench Mbombo outlined a new nursing strategy to dovetail with the province’s Healthcare 2030 plan to improve health care in the province.

The discussion came ahead of International Nurses Day on Friday May 12.

Dr Mbombo said the new strategy focused on the standard of care as well as leadership in the field.

Also at the meeting were Tendani Mabuda, director of nursing services for the province; Vyjayanthimala van Heerden, the winner of the 2016 Cecilia Makiwane Recognition Awards; Charlotte Stemmet, the winner of the 2016 Rural Nurse of the Year award; and Aghmat Mohamed, Groote Schuur Hospital’s senior nurse manager. Mr Mabuda said the new nursing strategy would address challenges faced by the province’s nurses.

“Among others it addresses issues of training, practice and how we can empower nurses in the province to do what they do best,” he said.

He encouraged young people to train as nurses to fill the gaps “in the ageing nursing population” .

He said the profession offered a lot of other career opportunities because qualified nurses could choose to specialise in other areas.

“Nurses are working very hard; they are the first people with the patients, and despite the workload, they still provide quality patient care,” he said.

Mr Mohamed, said he was excited about the new strategy because it stressed “person-centred care” and treated patients with dignity. “Our patients are much more diverse than 20 years ago,” he said, noting that training for doctors and nurses should account for that.

“Our doctors and nurses now need to be aware that not everyone is of the same culture and traditions. It’s important that we understand the patient’s culture, traditions and religion even, because it does impact on patient care.”

Dr Mbombo said failure to create an enabling environment for nurses would weaken their morale. “They project what they feel inside to the patients. We want them to portray that person-centred environment, that is what is crucial. We understand the challenges, the budget, the pressure and the increase in the types of disease that are coming,” she said.

The new nursing strategy, she said, would focus on improving the skills of specialist nurses.

“We need to assist them in terms of the mentoring, coaching so that they can be able to give support to the juniors. It is also about preparing them for management positions.”

She said she understood the conditions nurses worked under and valued their role as the “backbone” of the health-care system because “without them we won’t be able to do what we do”.