National audit of critical care resources in South African: Nursing profile
• to determine the profile and number of nurses working in South African ICUs and high care units;.
• to determine the number of beds in ICU and high care units in South Africa; and
• to determine the ratio of nurses to ICU/high care beds.
Design and Setting: Descriptive, non-interventive, observational study design was used. An audit of all public and private sector ICU and high care units in South Africa was undertaken.
Results: A 100% was sample obtained. 74.8% of the ICU nursing managers were ICU trained nurses with an average of 12.8 years of ICU experience. Only 25.6% of nurses working in ICU were ICU trained. The majority were registered nurses (49.2%), whilst 21.4% were semi-professional nurses. Private sector nurses represented 50.3% of all nurses. Some 42.8% of the professional nurses had 0-5 years of experience and 28.7% had 5-10 years. The groups 10-15 and 15-20 years represented 16.1% and 6.6% respectively. 5.7% nurses had 20 and more years. In the units that did use agency staff the ratio of permanent to agency nursing staff for the month of June 2003 was 64.5% versus 35.5%. In total there are 4 168 ICU and high care beds in South Africa that are serviced by 4 584 professional nurses. The nurse to bed ratio is 1.1 nurses per ICU/High Care bed.
Conclusions: This study demonstrates that ICU nursing in South Africa is challenged with an acute shortage of trained and experienced nurses. Our nurses are tired, often not healthy, plagued by discontent and low morale.
Juan Scribante, University of the Witwatersrand
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Date published: 2007-12-21
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