HUNDREDS of jobless nurses who were supposed to start being employed tomorrow following Government’s lifting of the ban on their employment will have to wait longer before they can be absorbed into the system, Sunday News can reveal.
Government recently announced that it had lifted the ban on the recruitment of nurses as it seeks to augment the country’s health staff complement which is depleted.
Delays by the Health Services Board to fill the 630 nursing posts has created anxiety among nursing graduates who were hoping to be employed.
Government had given the Health Services Board the go-ahead to start filling the vacant posts by 1 September, but sources at the board revealed to Sunday News that the board would not meet the deadline.
Efforts to get an official explanation of the delays from Health Services Board executive chairperson, Dr Lovemore Mbengeranwa, were fruitless as he was said to be away in Victoria Falls attending a doctors’ retreat.
His deputy, Dr Elizabeth Xaba, could also not be reached on her mobile phone and she, at the time of going to print, had not responded to questions sent to her and copied to her secretary via email.
Health Services Board public relations executive, Mr Nyasha Maravanyika declined comment, saying he was not authorised to speak on policy issues.
However, sources at the board revealed that it may take close to a month before recruitment of nurses starts.
“It is a process, not something that can be done overnight. According to Government, 630 posts were declared vacant which means that we have to recruit as many nurses.
“The official letter from Government states that recruitment should start on 1 September but that may not be possible. We first need to look at which hospital needs how many nurses before we start deployment. You have to understand that some hospitals are experiencing more staff shortages than others, so our deployment of nurses has to answer to those different cases.
“We also need to identify the nurses who will be employed. So like I said, that is a process which may take a bit longer than anticipated,” said the source.
Minister of Health and Child Care, Dr David Parirenyatwa, recently said the delay in employment of nurses was as a result of bureaucratic dynamics in Government.
“Government lifted the freeze on nursing posts. In terms of policy there is no more freeze on nurses’ employment.
“There are bureaucratic dynamics but in terms of policy it’s unfrozen. It’s now a matter of where the vacancies are and how to distribute the available resources,” Dr Parirenyatwa was quoted saying.
Sources at the Health Services Board said the last intake to be employed was the A 2010 intake which graduated last year.
Only a few of this intake, the source said, were still to be employed, with the recent lifting of the ban on recruitment likely to absorb a substantial number of nurses from intakes B 2010 and C 2010 who also graduated last year.
“When we start recruiting we will start with the few that are left from intake A 2010, then take a substantial number from intakes B 2010 and C 2010 which should leave quite a few nurses from the 2010 intakes still unemployed.
“We have always been recruiting but at a slower pace as we were only filling posts left by retirement or death. That sort of recruitment will also continue,” the source said.
Early this year, the Health Services Board decried delays by Treasury to approve the filling of vacant posts in the Ministry of Health and Child Care, a situation the board said had resulted in severe shortages of critical staff in Government health institutions.
Health Services Board director in charge of human resources, Ms Nornah Zhou, speaking in Gweru in March this year, said the delays in approving appointments, coupled with the ban imposed on promotions and vacant nurses’ posts had made the situation dire.
Ms Zhou said some health institutions in the country, particularly those in rural areas, were operating without adequate medical staff as the board was not able to quickly replace staff that would have left service for various reasons.
“For all those various vacancies we have, we cannot take any new staff. As much as we need them there are no resources to take care of that. In 2014 we would want to replace those that would have left but the problem comes on the time that Treasury takes to allow us to replace.
“Even if it is a replacement you are not allowed to automatically employ someone. You have to alert Treasury first and the process takes a lot of time. So that has affected us in a big way as some institutions go for a long time without the staff that they require,” she said.
It is estimated that the country has more than 2 500 qualified nurses who are unemployed and the recent lifting of the ban would only take the figure down to just under 2 000 qualified unemployed health workers.
Source: Sunday News