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As today marks the start of the National Treasury’s tight financial control measures or austerity measures in all national and provincial departments due to revenue constraints caused by the continued load-shedding and freight constraints, the Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (DENOSA) is extremely concerned with the negative impact these measures will have on the overall quality of healthcare services to the patients in the country’s healthcare facilities.
The National Treasury announced at the end of August that tight financial constraints will be unleashed on all government spheres, including public entities that receive revenue from the government, as bleak economic outlook continues to weigh heavily on the 2023/24 fiscus due to unceasing load-shedding and constrained transportation of goods, both of which have led to low revenue collection for the state.
As part of the immediate measures, the government announced that it will, as of 15 September 2023:
• Freeze the hiring of new employees except for instances where offers of employment have gone out already.
• Hire only critical employees if motivations are submitted by the heads of department.
• Identify infrastructural projects that may need to be stopped.
• Freeze non-essential traveling and spending on catering, conferences, and workshops, among others.
While DENOSA understands the precarious financial position the country is in, which needs immediate ideas to control further financial catastrophe on the part of the government, as a healthcare organisation we are concerned about the negative impact this move will have on the country’s healthcare system for the majority citizens and patients due to how staff-intensive the departments of health are in provinces for them to render the services optimally.
Whilst we acknowledge that hiring of critical staff will be prioritized during this challenging period, we always feel the need to make it known how intricate the healthcare service chain is, as many posts which may appear as non-essential, like support personnel such as cleaners, clerks, porters and kitchen staff, are as equally important as their presence makes a huge difference in the care of patients in the healthcare setting.
With these austerity measures, DENOSA is fearful that the workforce shortage will be one key issue that will reverse the standard of care that patients receive during this period – and, unfortunately, the end to austerity measures will depend on how soon the turn-around on load-shedding and freight operations is realized.
Lastly, DENOSA and its shop stewards will monitor the measures closely as they are likely to disadvantage many nurses if the hiring of needed staff is not addressed expeditiously in facilities, as this will lead to further burnout, depression, stress and many other mental strains amongst the nurses.
Issued by DENOSA