The Lesotho Nursing Council (LNC) has condemned as unethical and unprofessional the behaviour portrayed by some of the nurses, midwifes and nursing assistants working at the Queen Mamohato Memorial Hospital (QMMH) commonly known as Tšepong who have took part in the unlawful industrial action.
This was said by the Registrar of the LNC Flavia Moetsana Poka who pointed out that the unlawful strike had put the lives of the clients under the nurses’ care at risk.
“Such unethical behaviours cannot be tolerated by the Lesotho Nursing Council as they tarnish the image of the nursing and midwifery profession, and also destroys the trusting nurse or patient relationship within the community, and the working relationship amongst various cadres in nursing. The responsibility of the nurse, midwife and nursing assistant is to promote health, to prevent illness, to restore health and to alleviate suffering,” she said.
Poka called for the involved parties to work towards protecting patients and averting unnecessary mortalities.
“LNC rather urges the concerned nursing and midwifery personnel to allow themselves to be guided accordingly through all steps of tabling grievances in accordance with local, regional and international guidance on industrial action,” she said.
“LNC takes cognizance of the rights of all employees to complain about unfair working conditions and socioeconomic factors as supported by Lesotho Labour Department and International Labour Organization (ILO), it is paramount however, that in pursuit of these rights, there should be guidance and awareness of each of the parties to work towards protecting patients and averting unnecessary mortalities, while striving to get to a reasonable yet amicable solution,” she said.
According to LNC, midwives and nursing assistants are held responsible to providing the best possible standard of care in a competent, safe, respectful, ethical and accountable manner to all the people of Lesotho.
“They are required by LNC to ensure that they fulfil professional obligations to clients at all times. Each nurse, midwife and nursing assistant is obliged to question and consider the consequences of strike in relation to his or her professional accountability and responsibility for clients who may be at risk during the strike. Total withdrawal of nursing and midwifery care of clients is inconsistent with the code of ethics and the code of professional conduct guiding the practice. Essential health services must be maintained at all times,” she said.
“Abandonment of clients occurs when a nurse or midwife and nursing assistant has accepted an assignment and decides to discontinue care without getting the client’s permission, arranging suitable alternative or replacement service or allowing a reasonable opportunity for alternative or replacement services to be provided.
“Therefore, a nurse, midwife and nursing assistant who discontinues services without meeting the above conditions could be found guilty of professional misconduct. Furthermore, if he or she engages in misconduct having regard to all the circumstances, would reasonably be regarded by council as disgraceful, dishonorable or unprofessional, such conduct or action constitutes an act of professional misconduct,” she said.
Meanwhile, the Coalition of Health Professionals also distanced itself from the industrial action carried out by the nurses of the country’s only referral hospital in a statement released this week.
“The Coalition of Health Professionals Associations is aware of events taking place at our only referral hospital since the previous week. Members and the public should be aware that the struggle taking place is not led by the Coalition of Health Professionals but by the Lesotho Nurses Association (LNA) which is a member in a coalition.
“Coalition of Health Professionals Associations is also disconsolate about the salary discrepancy at QMMH and had a plan to attend to such, however, members and the public should note that the Coalition is at this stage not part of the events and can only intervene is its responsible member LNA’s request for assistance.
“We wish this matter could be handled with absolute care and professionalism for the sake of all Health professionals and Basotho at large,” the statement reads.
Meanwhile, the LNA has expressed dissatisfaction and disappointment at the comments by the LNC as published in the statement.
“We shall deal with this situation accordingly both locally and internationally. To our knowledge, nurses and nursing assistants went to school and gained a qualification and went for an interview hence they are employees like any other employees. We refuse to be abused in the name of “the calling”. We never vowed to be exploited and to die because of poor management and poor working conditions. We shall protect ourselves against all odds. We shall use everything and anything. We are ready,” LNA said in their responding statement.
Nurses and nursing assistants working at the national referral hospital QMMH have been on a strike in the past weeks wherein they decry discrepancies in their salary grades compared to those in the employ of the government.