Nurses under siege from patients

13 May 2019

Lack of humility is hurting the compassion of our nurses.

The President of the Botswana Nurses Union (BONU) Obonolo Rahube has expressed concern over the continuing violence and verbal abuse of nurses by members of the public in the workplace

Giving his speech during the BONU Annual General Conference which was held in Palapye last week he said to make the matters worse, there is no security for nurses in their working environment.

“We are calling upon the government of Botswana through the Ministry of Health and Wellness as a matter of urgency to ensure safety in our workplace. Botswana Nurses Union condemns in strongest possible terms the violence against nurses and nurses are saying enough is enough. The government of Botswana should see nurses as a partner in the journey towards the new Botswana which is championed by our new President his Excellency Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi,” said Rahube.

He emphasized that nurses are not safe when they are on duty as they are either brutally assaulted or verbally abused by the community they serve. He revealed that they have been in talks with the Ministry of Health and Wellness on such issues but nothing is done. He said the ministry agreed to upgrade the security and the installation of CCTV but hitherto nothing was done.

“We had also engaged the Ntlo ya Dikgosi on the issue but nothing is moving,” he said.

Among some of the challenges the nurses are facing, Rahube cited lack of remuneration and poor deployment of nurses. He explained that nurses who have specialized at Masters level qualifications are not well remunerated whereas their counterparts in the same ministry of health and wellness are being remunerated at E2 salary scale. He also said that lack of accommodation is one of their biggest concerns.

“Nurses are not given accommodation whereas they are essential service providers as per Trade Union and Employment Act. Nurses do not get benefits for being essential services like their counterparts in the public service. Nurses need decent accommodation and failure to do that they should be given 15 percent accommodation allowance,” he said

He also lamented on lack of training for nurses. He said it should be noted that well trained and skilled nurses improve health care quality for all. Rahube said capacity building of nurses and midwives enables them to meet the demands of the people they serve. He said as BONU they advocate for the training of nurses to at least degree and masters level and  abolish the diploma level. He further complained of lack of nurses at policy making decisions.

“BONU is an affiliate of the International Council of  Nurses. The ICN principle is that nurses should be present at the table when policy decisions are done. ICN believes that there should be no decision made for nurses without nurses at the table. In our current set up there are no nurses at policy decision making whereas we have decorated and educated nurses in public service who can be at policy decision making,” he said

Rahube also expressed worry over unemployment of graduates and midwives. He said graduates from the University of Botswana and institutions of health sciences continue to wander in the streets unemployed. He called upon government to absorb them to ensure quality health services to the communities adding that there is severe shortage of nurses.

“Nurses continue to roam the streets including those who were dismissed during the 2011 public service mass strike. We plead for those nurses to be reinstated in the system to alleviate the shortage that we see in the healthcare system,” Rahube said.