Code of Ethics for Nursing In South Africa

The South African Nursing Council (SANC) has published the Code of Ethics for Nursing in South Africa, which is a binding document that all nurses must comply with as it provides guidance to nurses in the process of their ethical decision-making.

To read and or download the Ethics, click here.    

SANC is a regulatory body for nursing in South Africa. The Council oversees the standard of nursing holistically, from education and training and practice. 

Inherent in ethical decision-making is the application of ethical values and principles in difficult and conflicting situations that nurses may face in specific circumstances during the practice of their profession. Nurses are at all times expected to observe and apply fundamental ethical principles in their interaction with healthcare users. Such ethical principles include, but are not limited to the following:
 (Social) Justice – Nurses are at all times expected to act fairly and equitably where there is competition of interest among parties, groups or individuals. Such interests may be,amongst others, related to access of healthcare resources, issues linked to prioritising care or any situation that may be perceived or experienced as unequal. Nurses should
therefore pursue justice and advocate on behalf of vulnerable and disadvantaged healthcare users and should be able to justify their decisions and actions.
 Non-maleficence – This requires a nurse to consciously refrain from doing harm of any nature whatsoever to healthcare users, individuals, groups and communities.
 Beneficence – Nurses are required to do good and to choose the “best option” of care under given circumstances and act with kindness at all times. It gives expression to compliance with the “duty to care” as a professional practice imperative.


Veracity – This principle requires the nurse to act with truthfulness and honesty and to ensure that the information provided to and on behalf of the healthcare user is always in the best interest of the healthcare user.
 Fidelity – This entails adherence to factual and truthful accounting and balancing that with respecting, protecting and maintaining confidential information pertaining to the delivery of healthcare, including health records of healthcare users.
 Altruism – Nurses are at all times expected to show concern for the welfare and wellbeing of healthcare users. The nurses are to be mindful of the fact that wishes and actions of healthcare users may be in conflict with the values and principles of the code, e.g. where healthcare users refuse treatment to the detriment of their health and that of others.
 Autonomy – Respect for the autonomy of eligible persons (healthcare users) to make their own decisions and choices in matters affecting their health.
 Caring – Nurses are required to demonstrate the art of nurturing by both applying professional competencies and positive emotions that will benefit both the nurse and the healthcare user with inner harmony.
These Ethical Principles have to be upheld at all times by all Nursing Practitioners in whatever role they fulfil as direct or indirect patient care providers, including, amongst others, educators, administrators, researchers, policy developers and others, in any setting whatsoever.

    This Code is based on the belief that nurses value:
     human life;
     respect, dignity and kindness for oneself and others;
     the uniqueness of individual healthcare users and also acknowledge the diversity of people in their care;
     the right to access to quality nursing and healthcare for all;
     the provision of accurate and truthful information in accordance with informed
    consent or refusal of treatment to enable individuals to make informed decisions in respect of matters affecting their health;
     integrity of persons in their care as well as the image of the profession;
     confidentiality and privacy of personal information and belongings of healthcare users; and