By Katharine Child, 14 November 2016, timeslive.co.za.
Private nursing colleges are being forced to shut their doors because of delays by the SA Nursing Council in accrediting new training courses.
The failure will lead to fewer nurses being trained.
A plan to improve the standards of nursing has meant that two courses, a one-year assistants’ course and a two-year enrolled or “staff nurse” diploma, have been discontinued and have not been replaced.
Students who want to qualify as a staff nurse now have to study for three years instead of two.
But the nursing council has failed to accredit the new, higher- quality course at private colleges, creating a gap in nurse training.
This could push private colleges out of business.
Students who want to study nursing next year will have to do a four-year university degree or study at a government nursing college.
The curriculums of the new proposed courses have to be accredited by the Council on Higher Education.
AfriForum’s Thomas van Dalen warns that the closure of private nursing colleges would exacerbate the nursing shortage.
A study by Wits University and Atlantic Philanthropies found that the shortage of nurses has led to 70% of nurses taking two jobs, alternating between private and government hospitals.
As a result, nurses often skip shifts or are exhausted.
Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has blamed the closure of nursing colleges in the 1990s for the current shortage of nurses.
AfriForum claims that 60% of nurses are privately trained, many by private hospital groups.
A nursing college owner, who asked not to be named because of fear of not receiving accreditation, said that in Western Cape a college had to retrench 25 of its 30 training employees.
He said he could not afford to keep his schools open because he had been unable to enroll students since August last year.
Although some private nursing college owners have had the new curriculums accredited by the Council on Higher Education they cannot register their business as a private tertiary educational institution with the Department of Higher Education because the nursing council has not accredited the new courses.
Van Dalen said no nursing college or university had been accredited by the council for a new course since 2012.
Pushed to explain the delay, council spokesman Adri van Eeden resorted to citing the Bill of Rights as justification for not responding to requests for comment.
She refused to answer questions about how students could check that they were studying for valid qualifications, saying the questions were “too vague”.
The delay in approving new qualifications is also leading to nursing students being scammed.
Nicole Nursing College, in Soshanguve, near Pretoria, which is accredited, enrolled students for the phased-out course and now the students want to write exams but cannot do so.
The college’s principal blamed the nursing council.
Nursing trade union Denosa has warned prospective students about colleges offering old qualifications and said that it is receiving many complaints in this regard.