Denosa said nurses who were on the ground and at the coal-face of the Covid-19 had been forgotten.
Johannesburg – The Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (Denosa) said it has been left with a bitter taste in the mouth after President Cyril Ramaphosa excluded nurses in the R500-billion Covid-19 stimulus package.
Denosa said nurses were currently fighting the Covid-19 war with their bare hands yet the president “completely disregarded” them in his announcement on the relief support package.
The organisation said, among others things, nurses had challenges with transport. Denosa said transport costs for nurses have now doubled as they have to take longer and connecting routes to their places of work with no support with transportation from the Department of Health.
Yet, it said, the government did not see fit to include them in the stimulus package.
Ramaphosa announced on Tuesday evening that due to the fact that Covid-19 led to the loss of jobs, R500 billion had been set aside to stimulate the economy and protect millions of South Africans from hunger and social distress during the pandemic.
However, Denosa said nurses who were on the ground and at the coal-face of the Covid-19 had been forgotten.
The announcement, Denosa said, has cemented nurses’ long-held view they were not appreciated despite their great contribution, most of which had seen many patients recovering from Covid-19.
The organisation said on Wednesday that Ramaphosa’s announcement left nurses with the message that said they were on their own as they were also enduring hardships due to Covid-19.
“Nurses’ salaries have not been adjusted as of April 1 as per the collective agreement. They have to endure a decreased disposable income now as a result of the lockdown at the time when their salaries have not been adjusted, when countries like Ghana have given tax breaks for four months to assist health workers as a gesture of appreciation for their work of selflessness during this period.
“Many nurses still work without Personal Protective Equipment and are exposed to the danger of contracting the virus.
“Many others already have (contracted the virus) and their calls for payment of Risk Allowance for Covid-19, like other essential workers are getting, have fallen on deaf ears so far.
“Still there is no counseling support for them at this time of need in facilities as more Covid-19 patients are admitted and no additional staff is hired.”
Denosa said nurses were “extremely disappointed” that not a single one of the above challenges has been acknowledged and addressed by Cabinet.
“This has deflated their morale to extreme low, and it is not unreasonable to feel the way they do.
“Overall, Denosa welcomes the various relief packages that the president announced because poverty as a result of the lockdown was threatening to create a new health crisis for many patients who are on chronic medication and would not be able to take their medication on empty stomachs.
‘We welcome the setting aside of funds to address staffing, because the reality is that South Africa has far too few health workers to handle Covid-19 if it were to rise to catastrophic levels. We will continue to make noise in this area, because it is in the best interest of communities to have enough health workers. “