Patients deserve compassionate nurses‚ not devils – Minister

Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi has warned health professionals to straighten up their attitudes and refrain from behaving like “devils in white”.

Motsoaledi addressed hundreds of nurses who had gathered in Seshego near Polokwane in Limpopo to mark the International Nurses Day Celebrations on Thursday.

While encouraging nurses to treat patients with respect‚ Motsoaledi referred to the shocking outcomes of a survey commissioned by government five years ago reflecting an 80% failure rate on cleanliness of facilities and the attitudes of staff members.

“When the results came‚ I nearly fell off my desk when looking at them‚” Motsoaledi said.

Now‚ with the establishment of South Africa’s first Health Ombudsman’s office led by former UKZN Vice-Chancellor Professor Malegapuru Makgoba‚ Motsoaledi said there would be a watchdog against the poor treatment of patients.

He told nurses and other healthcare professionals to be ready and expect calls from Makgoba’s office should patients complain of bad treatment.

“When a patient visits a hospital they are not only there to collect medications and be poked with an injection on the bum. They want a warm smile and soothing hands. They want compassion and love. The least (thing) a patient expects when they get to a hospital is to meet a devil in white‚” he said.

Motsoaledi went on to say that nurses cannot make their issues with their employer an excuse to continue behaving badly‚ adding that he would meet with the heads of institutions to brief them on the new state of affairs. “You must be ready and watch out. It will not be business as usual‚” he said. Earlier Motsoaledi explained to the audience of nurses dressed in uniform that their role was the backbone of South Africa’s healthcare system.

He said very little would be achieved in fighting diseases and promoting good health without their input.