Govt suspends bonding of nurses with immediate effect

Govt suspends bonding of nurses with immediate effect
Published: 07 January 2012 (4419 Views)
GOVERNMENT has, with immediate effect, suspended the bonding of nurses until it has the capacity to employ them, the state controlled Chronicle reported.

Human resources director in the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare, Ms Jane Mudyara, said the suspension would remain in force as long as there is limited absorption capacity within the public health sector.

This will see Government releasing 532 diplomas for registered general nurses (RGNs) and 529 certificates for primary care nurses    (PCNs) who were trained since 2009 and are jobless.

The Ministry of Health and Child Welfare yesterday said certificates and diplomas   would be issued to nurses that have   registered with the ministry that they are not employed.

"Registered general nurses and primary care nurses who graduated between 2009 and 2011 who are still unemployed and registered for the release of their certificates and diplomas with the ministry are requested to collect their diplomas," the ministry said.

The unemployed nurses will start collecting their certificates on Monday.

Government was withholding diplomas for nurses who completed their training arguing that they were supposed to be bonded to Government health institutions for at least three years.

However, Government failed to employ the bonded nurses following Treasury's decision to freeze all posts.

This resulted in most trained nurses being rendered jobless.

Bonding of nurses was introduced in 2007 to avert brain drain.

Many professionals in the medical sector left the country for greener pastures at the height of the economic meltdown over the past years.

This prompted Government to hold on to the certificates of newly trained nurses to prevent them from leaving the country upon completion of their studies.

Releasing of diplomas would mean that the trained nurses are now free to look for employment elsewhere upon completion of their studies.

Government's health institutions are still understaffed. The Health Services Board (HSB), whose mandate is to negotiate for the welfare of health employees, said it would continue negotiating with the Finance Ministry to unfreeze more vacant posts.

In 2011 the Ministry of Finance unfroze 1 168 posts for health professionals of which 594 were for nurses.

On recruitment of prospective nurses into training institutions, Ms Mudyara said training would continue but intakes have been reviewed in light of limited absorption capacity.
In 2011 alone Government trained 1 044 nurses across its training institutions.

HSB acting executive director Mr Michael Sande said freeing the unemployed nurses did not mean Government no longer needs them.

"This is out of the realisation that Government cannot continue to deny the nurses other opportunities by holding onto their certificates when we cannot give them jobs," said Mr Sande adding that, "the saturation of health professionals that the Ministry appears to have is artificial."

The Health Service Board together with the Ministry of Health consulted and will continue to engage the Ministry of Finance for the review of the Ministry of Health's establishment.

"We hope that the Ministry of Finance can accommodate our establishment expansion request to ensure that our health institutions have more appropriate manpower levels," Mr Sande said.

Of late, legal experts said Government was in breach of the Manpower Development Act, which stipulates that bonded graduates can work for other employers.

The State can, according to the Act, recover money used during graduates training through the employers if it cannot employ them.

- Chronicle

Tags: bonding, nurses,
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