Modern, Growing, Successful Province

Speech by the Premier of the Northern Cape, Dr Zamani Saul, at the welcoming Ceremony of Medical Interns, Community Service Professionals and Student Nurses

Programme Director
MEC for Health, Ms Mase Manopole
PROFKON Representative, Mr Kobus Kuhn
Senior officials from the Department of Health
Members of the Media
Esteemed guests
Ladies and gentlemen

I am delighted and honoured to on behalf of the Northern Cape Provincial Government officially welcome health care professionals that will be commencing their academic medical practice in different fields in the provision of quality health service. Equally so I am excited to welcome the nurses who will start their professional nursing training that will augment the current nursing compliment serving our people in the Northern Cape. Today’s ceremony undoubtedly signifies Government’s commitment towards service delivery and I am therefore very proud to introduce this group of graduates.

The Community Service Programme in the health sector was introduced as an important intervention to ensure the availability of human resources in underserviced areas of the country and also to provide an enabling environment for new professionals to acquire experience. In terms of the Community Service Programme, health professionals are legally required to complete a year of community service before they can be registered for independent practice.  

As we gather here this afternoon, I want to assure you and the people of the Northern Cape that this Government remains committed and acknowledges that good health is critical in enhancing human development and facilitating the process of economic growth and development. It is for this reason that we are implementing reforms in the health sector with a view of improving the quality of healthcare services to our people especially the working class and the poor. We are however faced with a challenge in attracting health professionals to our province. Despite this we continue to push boundaries to ensure that we address and meet the challenges head-on.  

Today we are introducing three hundred and eleven (311) Health Professionals that will be placed in the Medical Internship and Community Service programme as well as 120 new nursing recruits. As we welcome especially our new nurses today we are mindful of the challenges that relate to attracting the requisite number of nurses for our population. The production of nurses has been limited in the past due to various reasons.  Funding issues and legal requirements as well as a lack of bursaries for our students for both new and current nurses have impacted negatively on the nurse population. In addition to this, the current average nursing population are aged around 52 years. The implication of this is that most of our nurses will be retiring in the next 5 – 8 years.

Currently, the province is losing on average 300 nurses per year based on our Human Resource Statistics. My humble appeal to these new recruits and all professional nurses still employed in state facilities is to remain in the Public Service. Government invests a great deal in training nursing professionals only to lose them to the private sector once they have completed their mandatory service periods. Testament to our high quality nursing training is the high demand for nursing professionals overseas. With the introduction of the NHI, we will need every health care professional from doctors in their specialised fields, nursing personnel, speech therapists, occupational therapists etc. In comparison to this, the Department of Health produces on average 30 to 60 new students per annum. To counter this, the Department is in the process of registering the Henriëtta Stockdale Nursing College (HSNC) as a Higher Education Institution that will attract and accommodate more students who will make the Northern Cape their home. We also envisage establishing additional Satellite Nursing Colleges in JT Gaetsewe, ZF Mgcawu and PK Seme districts.

This coincides with the process of registering the HSNC as a Higher Education Institution with the Council of Higher Education and South African Nursing Council (SANC).

The provincial target for the intake at Henriëtta Stockdale Nursing College is to try to increase the average intake of new nurses to at least 500 new nurses per year.

Ladies and gentlemen, in welcoming you here today I want to encourage you to be committed and dedicated to your work and make use of every opportunity to learn whilst you are undergoing your internship. We trust that the intern doctors will get the best out of these two years as you are prepared to become the best in your respective fields of expertise and specialisation.

Most of you are aware that our country as well as our Province is experiencing some challenges relating to the attitude, morale and caring ethos of our health professionals. I therefore urge you to undertake to uphold the principles indicated in the pledge throughout your careers in order to restore the values and ethics entrenched in the medical profession. Further to this, I would like to implore you to uphold the principles of quality health care in our system.

As a Province we are working in earnest to look at ways to improve the management of our health facilities as a critical aspect of moving the health system forward. As this Administration we have articulated a vision of a Modern, Growing and Successful Province. At the heartbeat of this is the revitalisation of our Primary Health Care System by improving the quality of health services that we provide to our people.

I am a firm believer that most of you are not here by choice or circumstance. Most- if not all of you- did not choose to become doctors and nurses. I believe that the health profession chose you to be the servants of the people. Whilst it will be challenging- I can assure you it will be worth the time, sacrifice and commitment you pour into your work over the next two years.

You will undoubtedly form very close bonds with the people you serve and the professionals who will guide you on your journey to becoming fully fledged health care professionals and specialists. It is therefore my sincere plea that upon completion of your mandatory two years training you will seriously consider continuing to build your careers in the Northern Cape. You will find the Province to be safe, stable and growing in leaps and bounds.

With these few words I wish you well on your internships and your careers. We will be monitoring your progress very closely and we will do whatever humanly possible to ensure that a conducive environment exists for your training and that you will continue your careers here and assist us realise our vision of a Modern Growing and Successful Province.

Good luck and God speed.

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