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BLLAHWUs non-nursing duties case dismissed

BLLAHWU represented by Kewagamang Rantao Attorneys


Botswana Land Boards, Local Authorities and Health Workers Union (BLLAHWU) yesterday had their application on nursing duties dismissed by Judge Mercy Garekwe of the Lobatse High Court.


The Union had complained against Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM) on alleging that nurses are overwhelmed by work that fall outside their scope.


When dismissing the application, Judge Garekwe said the applicants did not file any document that shows the job description of nurses or midwifes or any contract to substantiate that indeed the aforementioned are performing duties that they should not do.


“During the first hearing of the matter, the Court registered its discomfort with the papers as filed, and called upon the Applicant to supplement its papers, if so advised, and make argument on the next court sitting, the applicants after advising itself advising itself properly, resolved not to do either and called upon the Court to make its decision based on the papers as they stand,” said Judge Garekwe.


She further outlined that it is not for the court to make a case for the applicants but for the applicants, who choose application proceedings to fully ventilate its case in the papers filed.


“There is virtually no proof that all the listed duties are currently performed or were ever performed by all nurses or some nurses,” added Judge Garekwe.


BLLAHWU represented by Kewagamang Rantao Attorneys in October last year filed an application by the High Court seeking an order declaring that medical consultation of patients which includes prescription of drugs, ordering of laboratory specimen such as blood, stool, sputum and urine should be done by an authorized prescribed practitioner other than the general nursing personnel as it is done today.


The application further declared that the court should relieve nurses from screening patients, registration of births and deaths, computerization of client’s data and preparing departmental annual estimates based on overall manpower and material needs projects, past expenditure and presenting it to the head of the department for consideration among others.


It was also affirmed in the application that, Regulation 5 of the Nurses and Midwifery (Professional Ethics and Practice) Regulations of 2011 prohibits a nurse or a midwife from attending to a patient where the attention required falls outside the scope of practice of the nurse or midwife.

It is only in exceptional circumstances provided for in Regulation 5 that a nurse can perform such functions and following such performance, ought to report the facts of the case in writing to his or her immediate supervisor “as soon as is practicable” after attending to a patient in the circumstances referred to. 


When dismissing the aforementioned Regulation Judge Garekwe said, “What I do not seem to understand, especially when dealing with the Regulations under discussion is the hidden suggestion by the applicant and its expert that a nurse, assisting a deserving patient and at times saving a life of such a patient and at times saving a life of such a patient by undertaking duties that fall outside his/her registered scope, but as mandated by the Regulation, is a waste of time.”


In an effort to solidify their facts again, the applicants also filed a 2008 Savingram that this publication is in possession of from the then Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Local Government, Mr. Thato Y. Raphaka that stated that health facilities provide preventive as well as curative services and are manned mostly by nursing staff because of shortage of doctors, pharmacists/pharmacy technicians and laboratory technicians.


He also added that the Anti – Retroviral Therapy (ARV) roll – out has also added to the workload of nurses. “The Ministry of Local Government is planning to roll – out ARVs to 128 clinics by March 2009 and because of shortage of pharmaceutical officers, in 2007/2008 we trained 95 nurses to carry out the function of prescribing and dispensing ARVs,” reads part of the Savingram from Mr. Raphaka that was directed to DPSM and copied to the Permanent Secretary in the Health Ministry and BLLAHWU President.


Mr. Raphaka at the end, on behalf of the Ministry of Local Government requested DPSM to address the plight of the nursing staff.


Complications in the determination and working of the non – nursing duties as always been the case dates back to the years of 2007 and 2008 between the government and unions with letters and meetings between the parties but any amiable solution was reached throughout these years, it was upon those reasons that on the 2nd of July 2014 when BLLAHWU passed a resolution that it should file an application by the High Court against DPSM that the court dismissed yesterday.

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