NURSES at Durban’s government hospitals say they will wear their normal clothes to work until they get their allowance.

They said they were supposed to get their yearly uniform allowance in April.

Patients were confused when they arrived at hospitals on Monday and found nurses without uniforms.

Many thought they were about to go on strike.

Nurses from Mahatma Gandhi and Clairwood hospitals told Daily Sun payment never has been this late.

One nurse said: “We fear they might end up not paying us at all this year.

“There has been no explanation.”

A 47-year-old Mahatma Gandhi Hospital patient in Phoenix was shocked when she saw the nurses wearing normal clothes.

“Another patient told me they were on strike but I later found out they wanted their money for uniforms.”

She said the situation made it very difficult to identify nurses.

Democratic Nursing Organisation of SA organiser Mandla Shabangu said: “We tried to remind the employer to pay the allowance on time but they didn’t listen.”

He said the nurses were fed up and felt the health department didn’t care about them. “The department always pays the allowance late in KZN.” Health spokesman Samuel Mkhwanazi said: “The department pays nurses’ uniform allowance after receiving the annual Consumer Price Index rate. This is received around April, which means the process to implement payment is made after this date to ensure nurses’ allowance payment is not below inflation.”

He said the department apologised to all affected employees for the delay caused by administrative processes. “The department is working with Treasury to ensure the allowance was paid by month end.”