"Respect patients; but refuse to become casualties of abuse", KZN Health MEC urges province's nurses, as they celebrate International Nurses' Day

12 May 2022

KwaZulu-Natal Health MEC Ms Nomagugu Simelane has cautioned the few nurses who mistreat patients to get their act together and stop tarnishing the image of nursing profession and the majority of their colleagues, whom she described as loving, hardworking and empathetic people.

The MEC was speaking during the commemoration of International Nurses' Day at Umfolozi TVET (eSikhaleni Campus) earlier today.

Proceedings kicked off with a door-to-door blitz through the Bhambatha Hostel at Esikhaleni, where the hostel-dwellers were urged to get vaccinated against COVID - 19.

Later at the TVET, when addressing a sea of nurses clad in white, MEC Simelane said: "Our nurses must never make patients feel like they're being a nuisance when they come to our clinics, Community Health Centres and Hospitals for help. At the same time, we are not saying that nurses must just roll over and allow people to abuse them. They must waste no time, but call security and/or law enforcement authorities, who must apply the relevant standard operating procedures when confronted by adverse situations. Respect is a two-way street," she said.

The MEC also thanked all of the Province's nurses for rising to the occasion in the face of great adversity brought about by the COVID -19 pandemic, the rampant looting and the Phoenix Massacre of July 2021, as well as the recent floods that caused a trail of destruction across the Province.

"We are quite pleased at having the opportunity to acknowledge and recognise the impact made by the nursing profession in the provision of healthcare to our communities.

"This is especially so, given our recent past, where we've been confronted by a number of public health emergencies.

"During these tough times, nurses have displayed immense courage and resilience. They have given true meaning to sentiments that describe them as the "backbone" and "heartbeat" of our health care system. We really can't thank you enough.

"It is highly regrettable that our war against the COVID-19 pandemic has cost us the lives of so many of our valued health workers.

On behalf of the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health, we dedicate International Nurses Day to all our nurses, especially those foot soldiers who died with their boots on, and became casualties of COVID - 19.

"May their collective souls Rest In Peace. We know and understand the devastation that their deaths have caused to those they left behind. We send our deepest love and sympathies to all their families.Their loss is our loss."

This year's theme for International Nurses' Day was Nurses: A Voice to Lead - Invest in Nursing and Respect Rights to Secure Global Health. The MEC said, even though the Department's financial muscle was dwindling, it would continue to prioritise the upskilling of nurses, "Because, truth be told, without a suitably-skilled and experienced workforce, there's no healthcare sector."

The MEC reminded nurses about the importance of protecting, loving, and advocating for their patients as much as possible.

"You have an assignment to fulfill and you have been mandated by the Department; and your regulatory body, the South African Nursing Council, to preserve lives and promote health."

"Do not compromise your ethical principles and standards. Rise and embrace the nobility of your profession for the rest of your lives. Do not forget to support, love each other, work as a team; and to collaborate with other essential health workers.

You are supposed to be the light along the path of those who are experiencing dark and difficult days. You must provide comfort and caring to those in need - and you must do so with conscience and with dignity, that is why your profession is highly-regarded."

ENDS Issued by the KZN Department of Health

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