Paidamoyo Chipunza Senior Health Reporter
At least 1 400 new registered general nurses have now been employed in public health institutions dotted across the country, since the Government started recruiting last week, Health and Child Care Secretary Dr Gerald Gwinji has said. Dr Gwinji said since Government froze employment of nurses in 2011, about 2 282 nurses had been churned out of training institutions and had not been employed.
However, since last week when Government made a call for applications, a total of 1 400 have since been recruited and deployed.
Dr Gwinji said Government was anticipating to complete recruitment of remaining applicants by end of next week.
“The process has been progressing well and so far nearly 1 400 RGNs (registered general nurses) have had their papers processed and have since been deployed. This exercise should be complete by the end of next week,” said Dr Gwinji.
The recent recruitments are expected to mop up all qualified, but unemployed nurses in the country.
About 2 000 of them were also recruited during the course of last year following unfreezing of the posts by Treasury.
The public sector job freeze was effected in 2011 to contain a ballooning wage bill, a situation that led to critical shortages of staff in hospitals mainly in rural areas, with the nurse to patient ratio currently at 1 nurse per 1 000 patients.
Government has since announced that it requires about 8 000 more nurses to adequately meet the growing burden of care in its health institutions.
Commenting on a similar recruitment exercise involving dismissed nurses who participated in an industrial action and failed to take heed of Government’s call to return to work, Dr Gwinji said the exercise was also progressing well.
About 6 000 nurses out of 16 000 nurses in the public health sector participated in the industrial action.
“All reapplication papers are being processed at local level and deployed for duty immediately. The Health Services Board will also finalise this exercise in 30 days,” said Dr Gwinji.
Government fired 5 974 nurses who took part in an illegal strike even after they were offered $17 million, the bulk of which was dues accrued from an irregular grading system.
Government had also offered them post basic, stand by and night duty allowances.
In an earlier interview, Health and Child Care Minister Dr David Parirenyatwa said both processes would assist the ministry to boost its workforce in the public health institutions, which were already understaffed.
Before the industrial action, there were 16 974 nurses working in public health institutions.