Massive skills shortage in South Africa affects hospitals

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Nursing has finally been added to South Africa’s list of critical skills, which should address the massive shortage of nurses in public and private hospitals across the country.

However, private hospital groups and other healthcare providers say the country has the capacity to train enough nurses – if only the government and regulators would allow it.

According to Business dayPrivate hospitals and healthcare groups are growing increasingly frustrated with the shortage of nurses, saying they are well placed to solve the problem — but government and regulatory agencies aren’t meeting them halfway.

The newsgroup reported that these agencies are actively working against finding solutions, with delegates at the Hospital Association of South Africa (HASA) conference this week being told that the South African Nursing Council (SANC) is preventing private groups from recruiting additional nurses. lead.

Recent data from the SANC showed that the country has a contingent of nursing staff of about 280,000 – equivalent to one nurse for every 213 people.

There were more than 21,000 nurses in training at the end of December 2020, but the private hospital group Life Healthcare said the country will need as many as by 2022. 26,000 additional nurses to meet the growing demand.

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in a open letter on nursing in South Africa, HASA said there are many nurses eager to help address the shortage, and private hospitals are ready to take on the challenge of training young medical professionals.

However, to combat the shortage, despite the willingness of the private medical sector, the “mutual embrace” of the various agencies regulating the nursing profession and the various provincial ministries of health is needed, HASA said.

“Making full use of the significant untapped training capacity for nurses in the private hospital sector can significantly help meet our national challenge,” it said.

The training of new nurses has been interrupted for the past seven years due to the transition to new nursing qualifications, the group said.

This has led to limitations and delays in implementation, resulting in a shortage of qualified nurses. In addition to a lack of qualified nurses, the current workforce continues to age with no younger nurses to fill in as replacements, HASA added.

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It said the long-standing shortage of nurses in South Africa – and worldwide – placed an even greater burden on practicing nurses during the pandemic – exacerbated by long-standing frustrations with deteriorating working conditions.

Civil society organizations have protested the treatment of nurses in South Africa, with the Young Nurses Indaba Trade Union (YNITU) approaching the National Treasury and the Department of National Health to demand better working conditions and increased budget.

Craig Comrie, chief executive officer of the medical scheme, Profmed, said the critical need for nurses and doctors is cascading across the rest of healthcare, from the value chain down to the citizen’s wallet.

Comrie said this dwindling skills base is pushing up the price of health care. “It’s not about the facilities available, it’s about the skills and management of this scarce resource. We’re just not creating an attractive value proposition to keep existing doctors and nurses in our system and create more skills that people can access.”

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critical skill

While the nurse shortage is a well-known phenomenon, the first edition of the Critical Skills List for South Africa omitted nurses.

HASA then urged the government to rethink and include nurses as a critical skill, arguing that its omission was a strange and surprising development that sends the wrong message about the country’s nursing resources, as it gave the impression that nurses are not a scarce skill.

The advocacy of including nurses as a critical skill was echoed by the opposition Democratic Alliance party, which earlier this year presented an opinion to Interior Secretary Aaron Motsoaledi on how to expand the list.

The latest critical skills New skills have now been added to the list published by the Ministry of the Interior, mainly relating to specialist medical and health professionals – including registered nurses.


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