Council threatens striking nurses

Council threatens striking nurses

MASERU-THE gloves are off after the Lesotho Nursing Council (LCN) threatened to discipline striking nurses for allegedly bringing the profession into disrepute.
The nurses have however received timely backing from the Lesotho Nursing Association (LNA).

The LNC is a statutory body under which all nurses are registered while the LNA is a voluntary association that fights for the rights of nurses.
The LNC says it wants to investigate and discipline the nurses for embarking on the strike. The LNA says that is rubbish.
The LNC yesterday told a press conference that it had launched investigations into the conduct of the striking nurses at the Queen ’Mamohato Memorial Hospital in Maseru.

The council’s registrar, Flavia Poka, said if the nurses are found guilty of misconduct, they could be suspended or deprived of their right to practise their profession.
Such nurses, Poka said, will be barred from practicing as nurses in Lesotho.
The council said it condemned the “unethical and unprofessional behaviour portrayed by some of the nurses, midwives and nursing assistants working at Tšepong”.

The council accused them of “taking part in an unlawful industrial action and have put the lives of patients under their care at risk”.
“Such unethical behaviour cannot be tolerated by the council as it tarnishes the image of the nursing and midwifery profession and also destroy the trusting nurse/patient relationship within the community,” Poka said.
She added that the behavior also “puts at stake the working relationships among various cadres in nursing”.

She urged the nurses and midwives must be guided by local, regional and international norms in tabling grievances and embarking on industrial action.
“The council takes cognizance of the rights of all employees to complain about unfair working conditions and socio-economic factors as supported by the ILO,” she said.
She said they call on all parties to work towards protecting patients and averting unnecessary mortalities, while striving to get a reasonable yet amicable solution.

Poka said the nurses and nurse assistants should provide the best possible standard of care in a competent, safe, respectful, ethical and accountable manner to all the people of Lesotho.
Poka said their mandate is to protect the public by regulating nursing and midwifery education and practice in Lesotho.
“The nurses and assistants are required by the LNC to ensure that they fulfill professional obligations to clients at all times,” Poka said.

She said each nurse or midwife is obliged to question and consider the consequences of the strike in relation to their professional accountability and responsibility for patients who may be at risk during the strike.
She further said a total withdrawal of nurses and midwives’ care from patients “is inconsistent with the code of ethics and the code of professional conduct guiding practice”.

“Essential services must be maintained at all times,” she said.
Responding to the LNC’s threats, the LNA secretary general, Monica Mokhesi, said the nurses are being “exploited by Tšepong that does not even have a salary structure”.
“A mentally stable person would not expel nurses during the time of Covid-19,” Mokhesi said, referring to a decision by the hospital to kick out the striking nurses from its premises.
Mokhesi said they do not mind being investigated if the LNC intends to do so.

“If they want to tear our qualifications, let it be,” Mokhesi said.
She also said the LNC should stop saying nurses embarked on an industrial action because they were driven out of the hospital premises by armed police.
“If the LNC uses its power on us we will also retaliate with the same force,” Mokhesi said.
“But we are wondering where Basotho will be at that time,” she said.
Mokhesi said the LNC should get ready to do more investigations as nurses are yet to show their colours, adding that “an injury to one nurse is an injury to all”.

“Touching one nurse would trigger a very big problem in the health system,” she said.
She said all they want is their money and they will not stop voicing out their grievances as they have been exploited for a long time.
“We also have the power that people will soon see,” she said.

She said they held a meeting with the LNC where it refused to answer some of their questions.
Mokhesi said starting from last night nurses at three clinics run by Tšepong, the Mabote Filter Clinic, Qoaling Filter Clinic and Likotsi Filter Clinic were to down tools too.

Nkheli Liphoto

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