I am hugely concerned that 700 nursing candidates will not be able to study for the four-year nursing diploma at three Gauteng nursing colleges because the Gauteng Health Department cannot afford to fund their studies.
This is despite the fact that they were informed that they qualified for the course but in December last year were told not to report to the colleges “until further notice”.
According to Department spokesperson Lesemang Matuka, the Department cannot afford the R57 million that is required to fund first year students, so the colleges will only admit first-year students with external bursaries or those who can afford to pay the fees themselves.
The three affected institutions are the Ann Latsky, Chris Hani Baragwanath and SG Lourens nursing colleges.
This is a cruel blow to poor students who passed the selection process but are now left out in the cold with no other study options for this year.
The underfunding of nursing training is most unwise as we are short of trained nurses for our health system.
According to the 2016/17 Gauteng Health Annual Report, the current nursing vacancies are as follows:
Professional Nurses – 982
Student Professional Nurses – 536
Staff Nurses – 405
The Department should urgently reconsider the cancellation of training for first-year nurses which is a priority that should not be sacrificed because of poor budgeting.