Nurses exodus threatens RFM
MBABANE – One of the kingdom’s biggest health facilities, the Raleigh Fitkin Memorial (RFM) Hospital, is facing serious challenges that threaten its operations.
The most daunting challenge is a looming exodus of nurses, a majority of whom have reportedly indicated their intention to leave the hospital to join government’s payroll.
RFM Hospital is run by the Chur-ch of the Nazarene, but receives government subvention.
Forcing the nurses to leave the hospital, which has 350 beds and attends to around 600 patients a day, is said to be the unfavourable terms and conditions of service.
Sources informed the Times that issues like the lack of overtime were killing the morale among the nurses who felt their future and welfare was not being prioritised by the institution.
Attempts to get the Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration Commission (CMAC) to address the issues have also failed as management reportedly requested to negotiate with the workers, but later failed to do so.
The problems facing the nurses have since been reported to their body – the Swaziland Democratic Nurses Union (SWADNU).
"Yes, we are aware of the nurses’ exodus at the RFM. We have a huge challenge with the parastatal in terms of conditions of service and treatment of the nurses. For instance, the nurses at RFM do not get the 25 percent overtime which government nurses receive. They are still paid on the old system. This is a very serious issue," President of the union, Bheki Mamba, said.
He apportioned blame on the RFM management who he said did not want to tackle the problems faced by the nurses. "There is a management system at RFM that does not want to talk. Nurses tried to get management to talk to them, but they, failed hence they resolved to report their problems to the Ministry of Health. The minister managed to calm the nurses down, but eventually they decided to approach CMAC after seeing that no progress was being made," Mamba said.
Once the matter was before CMAC, according to Mamba, management asked nurses to withdraw it and return to the negotiation table where they promised to address the matter.
"But still that did not happen. That is the problem. The majority of the nurses are going to leave RFM during this internal migration period," he said.
Information from sources is that a number of the nurses have already been interviewed by the Civil Service Commission (CSC) after applying for nursing jobs with government.
The CSC is responsible for the hiring and firing of government employees. Efforts to get comment from CSC Chairman Peter Mamba on Friday did not bear fruit as he did not answer his phone when called.
Foreigners are treated better, complain doctors
MBABANE – About 11 Swazi doctors are reported to be frustrated by working for the RFM Hospital and are reconsidering their employment there.
Management of the hospital is reported to have ignored the welfare of the local doctors in preference of foreigners, who are reportedly from Zambia and Zimbabwe.
"The problem is that the hospital has a mentality of believing more on foreign doctors than locals. This is because it knows it can make the foreigners do as it wants, but the same cannot be said of the Swazis.
A lot of locals have been frustrated, hence they leave. This kills the healthcare system because if you have more expatriates the healthcare won’t improve," SWADNU President Bheki Mamba said.
He added: "The danger is that such institutions trust in foreign doctors yet the situation back in Zimbabwe is improving while it is worsening here. So the Zimbabweans will soon return home and the hospital will be left in a crisis."
... nurses allege hospital not paying their pension
MBABANE – Nurses at the RFM Hospital alleged to have discovered that the institution has not been remitting their pension fund contributions to their insurer.
Sources said the contributions were not forwarded to the insurance company despite that deductions continued being made on the nurses’ salaries.
"The workers believe that the hospital management is not remitting their pension contributions to the company they engaged," the source said.
SWADNU President, Bheki Mamba, confirmed the problem: "This is a very serious issue, but there has been no forum for the nurses to discuss it with management.
"The nurses went to enquire from the scheme and found out about the problem. They found that they owed the scheme a lot of money because their employer has not been forwarding their contributions."
Mamba said this had made the nurses reconsider their future with the hospital which was why a majority of them want to leave.
Hospital evolving - CEO
MBABANE – The new Chief Executive Officer of the RFM Hospital Dr Beauty Makhubela said the institution was undergoing a period of evolution.
This she said when confronted with a list of questions on the problems that are reported to be facing the health facility.
Makhubela responded: "RFM Hospital would like to thank the Times of Swaziland for forwarding a questionnaire related to the activities of the hospital. Our institution is undergoing a transition period which started on the July 2, 2012 when I assumed the duties of Chief Executive Officer.
I am currently familiarising myself with the activities of the hospital. RFM being a big hospital with a 350-bed capacity, the orientation programme will take some time given the complexity of the institution with many medical, nursing and supporting departments."
She added: "I am counting on your appreciation of the situation and kindly request to be given more time to settle in my current position while focusing on daily emergency challenges that always occur in a big hospital environment like ours."
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