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Nurses are key to driving quality healthcare in South Africa

International Nurses Day is celebrated around the world on 12 May every year to commemorate the anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth and mark the considerable contribution nurses make to society. The global theme this year, “Nurses: A voice to lead – Health is a Human right”, calls for greater commitment from nurses in all hospitals to put patients at the heart of what they do.

Taking the global theme further, Life Healthcare’s national theme is “Nursing Now: A voice to lead. “As the single largest group of health professionals, and those closest to the patient in all settings, nurses have an enormous impact on reducing health costs and increasing quality of care while remaining advocates for patients and their families. The decisions that nurses make many times every day, have a significant impact on the efficiency and effectiveness of the entire healthcare system.” says Dr Sharon Vasuthevan, Life Healthcare’s Nursing and Quality Executive.

Dr Vasuthevan also believes that the role of nurses must change in line with developments within the healthcare system. “While, nurses play a pivotal role delivering services along the entire continuum of quality healthcare, there should be greater focus on clinical competence and outcomes within the nursing profession,” she explains.


Clinical leadership will become a critical competence for nursing professionals, managers and clinical staff, as they work collaboratively with our multidisciplinary teams. This gives us the opportunity to focus on developing a clinical approach to nursing and retaining expert clinical nurses at the patient’s bedside.


To this end Life Healthcare has implemented a long term programme which focusses on becoming a clinically-led organisation where nurses, doctors, and other members of the hospitals’ multidisciplinary teams work together according to integrated clinical pathways to ensure optimal clinical outcomes for patients.


Life Healthcare invests in its nursing professionals through a series of ongoing educational and professional courses which include continuing professional development (CPD) programmes. The nursing CPD programme’s introduction in 2012 was partly in response to the Nursing Act 2005, which at a future date will require nurses to provide evidence of having completed CPD as a pre-requisite for renewing their annual nursing licence. More important is the role played by ongoing education and lifelong learning in the provision of safe and quality nursing care for all patients.


That said, patient experience will continue to be the benchmark that differentiates one hospital from another and the concept of quality of care now extends beyond the realm of clinical outcomes. As such the Group’s CARE programme focuses on delivering the ultimate patient experience by providing compassionate and thoughtful care throughout the patient’s stay in hospital.


Nursing is a career and Dr Vasuthevan believes that nurses should be celebrated for their devotion and commitment as well as the critical role they play in delivering compassionate care to patients. Nurses also take on the responsibility for championing evidence-based practice whilst influencing, moulding and inspiring nurses of the future.


“Ultimately International Nurses’ Day is about honouring nurses as the primary caregivers and acknowledging the myriad ways in which they lead the way in the delivery of cost effective, quality healthcare. They should be recognised for their passion and advocacy for those entrusted to our care,” she concludes.


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