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About the South African Nursing Council

What is the South African Nursing Council?

South African Nursing Council is the body entrusted to set and maintain standards of nursing education and practice in the Republic of South Africa.  It is an autonomous, financially independent, statutory body, initially established by the Nursing Act, 1944 (Act No. 45 of 1944), and currently operating under the Nursing Act, 2005 (Act No. 33 of 2005).

Setting and Monitoring of Standards

In terms of Section 3 of the Nursing Act, 2005, the Nursing Council is to establish, improve and control conditions, standards and quality of nursing education and training.

Section 4 of the Nursing Act makes provision for the accreditation and inspection of nursing education institutions, the monitoring of assessments conducted by accredited institutions, the conducting of nursing examinations, and the granting of diplomas and certificates.

Section 58(1)(f) of the Nursing Act, 2005 provides for the making of regulations relating to qualifications and the conditions to be complied with, which entitle a person to be registered as a nursing practitioner (education and training regulations).

South African Nursing Council is involved in the monitoring of nursing standards by:

  • registering nurse practitioners, therefore permitting them to practise as nurses;

  • accreditation of new nursing education institutions and nursing education programmes;

  • inspection of nursing education institutions and clinical facilities;

  • constantly reviewing nursing education and training to be in line with the needs of the Republic of South Africa; and

  • providing counselling and guidance to the nursing profession regarding the implementation of the nursing education and training policies.

The objectives of the South African Nursing Council are to:

  • serve and protect the public in matters involving health services generally and nursing services in particular;
  • perform its functions in the best interests of the public and in accordance with national health policy as determined by the Minister; 
  • promote the provision of nursing services to the inhabitants of the Republic that complies with universal norms and values;
  • establish, improve, control conditions, standards and quality of nursing education and training within the ambit of this Act and any other applicable laws;
  • maintain professional conduct and practice standards for practitioners within the ambit of any applicable law;
  • promote and maintain liaison and communication with all stakeholders regarding nursing standards, and in particular standards of nursing education and training and professional conduct and practice both in and outside the Republic;
  • advise the Minister on the amendment or adaptation of this Act regarding matters pertaining to nursing;
  • be transparent and accountable to the public in achieving its objectives and in performing its functions;
  • uphold and maintain professional and ethical standards within nursing; and 
  • promote the strategic objectives of the Council.

The Nursing Council must:

  • in all its decisions, take cognisance of national health policies as determined by the Minister and implement such policies in respect of nursing;
  • where authorised by this Act, enter, remove from or restore to the register the name of a person;
  • conduct examinations, and appoint examiners and moderators and grant diplomas and certificates in respect of such examinations;
  • conduct inspections and investigations of nursing education institutions, nursing education programmes and health establishments, in order to ensure compliance with this Act and the rules and standards determined by the Council in terms of this Act;
  • report to the relevant statutory body any non-compliance established after an inspection and investigation referred to in paragraph (d); 
  • ensure that persons registered in terms of this Act behave towards users of health services in a manner that respects their constitutional rights to human dignity, bodily and psychological integrity and equality, and that disciplinary action is taken against persons who fail to do so;
  • investigate complaints against persons registered in terms of this Act and take appropriate disciplinary action against such persons in accordance with the provisions of this Act in order to protect the interests of the public; 
  • publish in the Gazette the details of the unprofessional conduct and the names and qualifications of the persons against whom disciplinary action was taken in terms of this Act within 30 days of the conclusion of such disciplinary action;
  • ensure that a register of persons registered in terms of this Act is available to the public as prescribed;
  • investigate and take action against non-accredited nursing education institutions;
  • withdraw or suspend accreditation of a nursing education institution or nursing education programme if the education or training provided does not comply with the prescribed requirements and inform the relevant licensing authority;
  • determine –
    (i) the scope of practice of nurses;
    (ii) the conditions under which nurses may practise their profession;
    (iii) the acts or omissions in respect of which the Council may take steps against any person registered in terms of this Act; and
    (iv) the requirements for any nurse to remain competent in the manner prescribed;
  • determine prescribed licence or registration fees, payable under this Act;
  • monitor the assessment by education and training providers, including the recognition of prior learning, register constituent assessors and moderators and grant diplomas and certificates in accordance with the requirements of this Act and any other law;
  • be regarded as an education and training quality assurer in terms of section 5 of the South African Qualifications Authority Act, 1995 (Act No. 58 of 1995), for all nursing qualifications;
  • submit to the Minister—
    (i) a five-year strategic plan within six months of the Council coming into office which includes details as to how the Council plans to achieve its objectives under this Act;
    (ii) a report every six months on the status of nursing and on matters of public importance compiled by the Council in the course of the performance of its functions under this Act; and
    (iii) an annual report within six months of the end of the financial year;
  • ensure that an annual budget is drawn up in terms of sections 23 and 24 and that the Council operates within the parameters of such budget; and
  • perform such other functions as may be prescribed.