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Fear as hundreds of nurses practise illegally 

nurses

Hundreds of nurses across the country are practicing illegally because their practice certificates have not been renewed by the Nursing and Midwifery Council of Botswana (NMCB), this publication can reveal.

The result is that a row has broken out between nurses and the Nursing and Midwifery Council of Botswana (NMCB) over registration and renewal of practice certificates. There are fears that some nurses may not practise after it emerged that there was delay in issuing practice certificates by NMCB. 

The NMCB which is a body that safeguards these standards, upholds and monitors the quality of nursing education and practice through its regulatory mandate accuses nurses of late submission for late renewal of their certificates while nurse accuses it of being incompetent. 

Information reaching this publication indicates that hundreds of nurses and nursing educators practitioners had paid for the renewal of their practicing certificates since last year but they are yet to be issued with valid practicing certificates by the regulating body.

Majority of nurses who are members of the Botswana Nurses Union (BONU) then approached their union requesting it to intervene in the matter. BONU reportedly wrote a letter to NMCB complaining among others backlog in renewal of practicing certificates.

In the letter dared 11 February, BONUS secretary general Lebogang Phillip states that “BONU is overwhelmed with grievances regarding non issuance of 2022 practice licenses by Nursing and Midwifery Council of Botswana.” He said the nurses were complaining that all necessary documents for registration renewal have been timely submitted but they have not received their practice certificates. 

“DHMTs management across the country are demanding for the 2022 practice certificates as the registration period has elapsed. There are fears that nurses might be sanctioned for not producing valid 2022 practice certificates though the cause is reason beyond their control.” 

He added that, “Kindly inform us of the progress of issuance of 2022 practice certificates and when the situation will normalise. Moreover, BONU request your esteemed office to issue a statement to the DHMTs management regarding the delay of 2022 practice certificates so as to protect the registrants from any form of victimisation.” 

But BONU got more than what it bargained for as the regulatory body came with guns blazing accusing the union of “harassment” and warned it that it welcomed individual complaints from nurses and not the union.

In a strongly worded letter, dated 11 February 2022, NMCB Registrar Hannah Kau-Kigo informed BONU Secretary General that “registration and or renewal of practicing certificates are an individual nurses responsibility and therefore NMCB would gladly receive individual complaints.”

The letter titled “Non issuance of 2022 nurses and midwives practice certificates” also states that the stated issues raised by BONU on behalf of its members are not true. According to Kau-Kigo, “Not all documents for registration renewals have been timely submitted as alleged.”

She said the documents were submitted very late and “even today NMCB is still receiving packages from facilities.” She added that matrons are the custodian of payment at the decentralised places and work closely with Continuing Professional Development (CPD) and Trainers of Trainers (TOT’s) and therefore are aware of what is happening on the ground.

“Sanctioning of Nurses who do not have practicing certificates are validated through NMCB, therefore the issues for not producing 2022 certificates for those who have duly paid is farfetched as misconstrued by yourself,” she said. 

In view of the above, Kau-Kigo said, NMC B work closely with the Chief Nursing Officer ( CNO) at the Ministry of Health and Wellness as she is the overseer at the National Level, adding that “so anything to do with nursing practice is communicated directly to the CNO to share with the facilities.”

“Any query regarding renewal of registration by the DMHT (District Management Health Team) should be directly communicated or forwarded to NMCB as the Regulatory Body charged with renewal/registration,” she said. As a parting shot, Kau-Kigo said “NMCB secretariat is concerned with harassment by BONU through your esteemed office. This seems to be escalating on yearly basis.”

Some nurses who spoke on condition of anonymity confirmed they have paid for nursing licenses and later submitted some relevant documents to NMCB for printing but they are yet to be issued with certificates.

Expressing frustration they added that they can’t practise nursing because they are wanted at their work place. “We attempted to produce receipts as evidence that we have renewed and registered to practiced but at work they refused to recognise those receipts,” they said. NMCB had advised registrants to renew their practising certificates well on time to avoid last minute congestion.

“All nurses and midwives registered with NMCB employed by the government, working in the private institutions or retired etc can also pay for the renewal of their practising certificates at any of the decentralized facilities,” the NMCB said.  It warned that was illegal to employ a Nurse or Midwife not registered with NMCB or who does not have a valid practising certificate adding that such act contravenes section 10 (1) and section 11 (3) of the Nurses and Midwives ACT. Cap 61:03.

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