Shortage of nursing staff makes National Health Insurance impossible

The civil rights organisation AfriForum today said the critical and increasing shortage of nursing staff in South Africa is a fatal weak point in the pursuit to put the intended National Health Insurance (NHI) into practice. It was recently reported that various problems – especially the retirement of older nursing staff – are threatening this occupation.

Dr Eugene Brink, Health Spokesperson at AfriForum, says even though the issue surrounding nursing staff is an acute problem that will worsen even more, there are also other drawbacks in the health system that are nipping the NHI in the bud.

“The NHI plan is harmful and will simply just not work – the shortage of nursing staff is only one symptom thereof. A lot of nursing staff and doctors are emigrating or leaving the occupation due to the overall precarious conditions in the public health sector and the sword of NHI that hangs over the private sector.”

According to Brink, the shortage of political will, as well as the wrong ideas are to be blamed for this mess. “With training of medical personnel and supply of health services, the state must reach out to the private sector and increase its own responsibility in respect of especially the management of hospitals and the various health departments and their budgets.

“The ANC government is dreaming if they think they can institute the NHI plan in an environment in which your resources are becoming more scarce. They will need to do away with the administrative obstacles and red tape to give training via the private sector some momentum and then give some much-needed attention to the other aspects in the system that are driving staff away. Health services are simply too important to entrust it to an incompetent state.”

AfriForum is busy with a campaign aimed at gathering the public’s stories regarding their awful experiences at hospitals for a comprehensive report and they can share it at

“A large number of people have already told their horror stories regarding especially public hospitals and it is typical of the dysfunctionality of the system,” concludes Brink.

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