Red tape leaves nurse unemployed

Simon’s Town nurse Olivia van der Haar’s name was removed from the South African Nursing Council’s (SANC) register because her payment of the annual fee, which was a day late, ended up in cyberspace.

The R320 was paid from her husband’s Capitec account to SANC’s FNB account on December 30 2017.

Their cut-off date for annual payment is on December 31.

“The same payment method and date was used in previous years and it has never been a problem,” Ms Van der Haar said.

“When I wanted to go to work in January – as I was booked for a shift at a hospital – I was informed by the nursing agency that I had to contact the nursing council as my name had been removed from the register. I called SANC and their agent dropped the call. I sent them and the union Denosa proof of payment but no one has responded to my emails.

“Subsequently I am now unemployed. In order for me to be restored I have to pay a further R1 600 and wait another month before I can actually work.

“My question is can one be penalised for money sitting in cyberspace? I’ve found out that a lot of nurses have been affected by this ‘late payment’. Is the SANC not accountable to anybody? They ignore emails and calls and nobody takes them to task? Please advise if you will be able to assist,” Ms Van der Haar said.

Spokesperson for SANC, Adri van Eeden, said the council gives nurse practitioners an annual fee payment window of six months from July 1 to December 31 annually. “Nurse practitioners are advised, as indicated on the back of the Annual Practising Certificate (APC), not to leave annual fee payments to the last minute so as to avoid problems related to making payment at the end of the year. The regulations also stipulate that the annual fee payments must reach the council by the due date which is December 31. In addition, a board notice dated June 30 (2017) clearly states that the payment must have reached the SANC by December 31,” Ms Van Eeden said.

The SANC runs provincial outreach programmes. Specifically during the 2018 annual fee payment period, the outreach programme visited the Western Cape and other provinces with a high number of nurse practitioners attending. The SANC extended this programme by increasing the number of days as well as personnel which was aimed at assisting nurse practitioners to obtain their APC on time.

“Ms Van der Haar lives in Simon’s Town but according to the SANC records, she did not use this service,” Ms Van Eeden said.

The EFT deposit showed that the payment was made on Saturday December 30 (2017) at 11.14am.

“Notes on the proof of payment clearly state that any payments made after 2pm, Monday to Friday, or after 9am on a Saturday or public holiday should reflect in the beneficiary account within two business days. Payment reflected on the SANC bank account on January 3. However, in this case it was processed earlier by the banks and was received by the SANC on January 2.”

Ms Van Eeden urged Ms Van der Haar to apply for restoration and urgently send the signed restoration form together with proof of payment to the SANC for processing. The SANC said they would also investigate Ms Van der Haar’s complaint about dropping her calls if she could give them the name of the call centre agent.

Well, that would be a miracle, most of the time agents just mumble their names. “The SANC does not condone such behaviour by any of its staff members,” Ms Van Eeden said.

Ms Van der Haar was not very happy. “Thank you for taking the time to investigate. I also paid SANC R320 in November 2017 to replace my certificate which I lost. The rule says I have to be an active member which I was at the time. I have had not even received an acknowledgment from them. Now I have to pay another R1 600 to be restored and get a duplicate certificate. I don’t think so. SANC owes me R320 plus R340 and let’s not mention loss of income,” she said.

Although SANC promised to let me know if Ms Van der Haar would have to pay the restoration, they replied two months after I asked.

Patrick Modiselle, manager: revenue collection and sales, said: “As Ms Van der Haar’s payment was received after the due date, she will have to pay a restoration fee of R1 160 to enable her to be placed back on to the nurse register for the current calendar year.”

Mr Modiselle sent me the form to forward to Ms Van der Haar.

However, I told him it was his responsibility to do it. Now Ms Van der Haar is faced with Hobson’s Choice: she will have to pay or she won’t be allowed to work as a nurse.