Bring caring back into nursing, urges Zuma
President Jacob Zuma and Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi yesterday pleaded with nurses to restore their profession to its former glory.
Speaking to more than 2000 nurses and nursing managers at a national nursing summit at the Sandton Convention Centre, in Johannesburg, Zuma urged nurses to "make the patient feel wonderful".
"This profession has always been put up there . we believe it needs to be brought back to that status.
"We grew up during the time when nursing was something [to be admired], [when] hospitals were centres of attraction for young men who were [looking for a wife]," said Zuma.
Though the nurses laughed at his comment, the president had a stern message for them.
He said it was now time for an attitude change.
"The era of the rude, un-caring and impatient civil servant or nurse must be a thing of the past ... we must shorten the waiting times or delays ... we must ensure that all health facilities are clean and tidy at all times."
There have been several incidents of patients complaining about unprofessional treatment by nurses and the lowering of healthcare standards.
Zuma said nurses should "receive members of the public warmly and provide assistance in an understanding and empathetic manner" because that was their job.
He stressed that the government could build beautiful hospitals and clinics but "at the end of the day, the attitude of the people running the hospitals counts".
Commenting on an audit of nursing colleges, Zuma said the results confirmed that the training of nurses had been neglected and poorly co-ordinated over the years but that government would ensure that this was corrected.
Motsoaledi said that though nurses occupied a critical position in society, the lack of "bed-side experience" of some nurses trained at universities and expensive private colleges had contributed to the "damage" done to the profession.
"We played our role in bringing this damage," he said.
Only two nurses, from Grey's Hospital, in Pietermaritzburg, attended the summit in uniform.
Questioning why the other nurses were not in uniform, Motsoaledi said: "It's not by coincidence that people who work in hospitals wear white: it's for infection control".
He said white uniforms should be provided "immediately" because nurses wearing blue could carry dirt and infection for days.
The summit ends tomorrow and will also discuss nursing ethics, training, policies and resources.