The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health and Child Care has expressed concern over the Nurses Council of Zimbabwe’s (NCZ) policies pertaining registration of Zimbabwean nurses who were working in the diaspora and attachment of nurses working in the private sector who are furthering their studies.

The issue regarding nurses who trained outside the country came under the spotlight when a Zimbabwean nurse, who trained in the United Kingdom (UK) relocated back to Zimbabwe, where she wished to continue working in the same profession.

The nurse completed her training in the UK in 2005, with her papers showing that she was properly registered with the British Nurses’ Council but defaulted in her registration requirements from 2011.

She relocated back to Zimbabwe in 2017 and applied to register with NCZ where she has been put on provisional registration while she completes her three-year Designated Health Institution (DHI) training.

She will complete her training in February 2020 but she has requested for a certificate of good standing.

The council maintained that she completes the three years, a requirement which the chairperson of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health and Child Care, Dr Ruth Labode queried.

Giving oral evidence regarding the recruitment policy for Zimbabwean nurses who trained in the diaspora, chairperson of NCZ, Dr Lillian Dodzo clarified that the measures are meant to ensure that nurses are properly qualified and fit in the country’s Health Professional Board’s requirements.

NCZ registrar, Mrs Mercy Chaka did not have the exact number of foreign nurses working in Zimbabwe but gave an estimate of around 40 nurses while the number of nurses undergoing DHI training was also not immediately available.

In 2016, the government amended the Nurse Staff Establishment from about 16 500 to 25 000 after embarking on a process to revise establishments in 2010 following a job freeze by Treasury on all government posts.

However, NCZ board member Dr Cynthia Chasokela said the Nurse Staff Establishment currently stands at 17 000 with between 1 000 and 2 000 nurses unemployed.

The committee also requested the NCZ to review the requirement for nurses working in the private sector who are pursuing further studies to undergo attachment only at government hospitals which offer training.

The obligation is said to be putting the nurses at a disadvantage as they cannot get permission from their employers to go for an extended period on attachment as they risk losing their jobs.