Hospi­tal groups pre­vent­ing brain drain

Finweek English Edition - - Companies & markets - FROM THE AN­NUAL RE­PORT SIKONATHI MANTSHANTSHA

THE SA HEALTH­CARE IN­DUS­TRY IS tired of sit­ting back lament­ing the skills short­age and brain drain it’s ex­pe­ri­enc­ing. It has now de­cided to roll up its sleeves and take it upon it­self to solve the prob­lem. The two big­gest private com­pa­nies, Net­work Health­care Group (Net­care) and Medi-Clinic Private Hospi­tal Group (MediClinic), an­nounced steps to counter the skills em­i­gra­tion and short­age – par­tic­u­larly of nurses – in their 2006 an­nual re­ports.

Medi-Clinic said it had main­tained the amount it spent in the prior year at 4% of its pay­roll. It had a to­tal of 1 141 nurs­ing stu­dents in its nurs­ing schools in the year to March 2006, while its big­ger com­peti­tor said it would dou­ble the num­ber of nurs­ing stu­dents at the Net­care Train­ing Academy from 1 500 in 2007 to record fig­ures since its in­cep­tion.

Net­care CE Richard Fried­land stated in his strate­gic re­view: “The skills short­age in South Africa of nurses, phar­ma­cists and paramedics re­quires a na­tional so­lu­tion, as it’s the key fac­tor lim­it­ing ser­vice de­liv­ery and growth in the sec­tor.” Fried­land said his com­pany wel­comed the Gov­ern­ment’s ini­tia­tive to in­crease its in­take of nurs­ing stu­dents. He said Net­care’s con­tri­bu­tion to up­lift­ing spe­cial­ist skills in the health­care sec­tor was il­lus­trated by its con­tin­ued fund­ing of nurs­ing col­leges across the coun­try. “We have also been ac­tively in­volved in at­tract­ing skilled pro­fes­sion­als back to South Africa through our Woza Khaya (come back home) ini­tia­tive,” said Fried­land.

“The medium- to long-term so­lu­tion re­mains the train­ing of more staff by both the private and pub­lic sec­tors,” stated Medi-Clinic chair­man Ed­win Hert­zog and CE Louis Alberts, in MediClinic’s 2006 an­nual re­port. “The ini­tia­tive taken in 1997 to fur­ther ex­pand our nurs­ing ed­u­ca­tion ca­pac­ity has en­abled us to re­duce the ef­fect of the nurs­ing short­age on our com­mit­ment to qual­ity care and will con­tinue to do so in fu­ture.” How­ever, Medi-Clinic is aware that urg­ing ex­pa­tri­ates to come back home in Fanakalo (lin­gua franca used by dif­fer­ent lan­guage groups on the mines) won’t have the de­sired ef­fect. It made moves to keep its staff in the sys­tem by of­fer­ing them share own­er­ship in the com­pany. MediClinic cre­ated Mpilo Trust, which sub­scribed for 4% of the com­pany’s is­sued share cap­i­tal in its R1,1bn BEE deal. The Mpilo Trust would ben­e­fit nearly 11 000 em­ploy­ees – the ma­jor­ity of whom (52% black, 89% women) are pre­vi­ously dis­ad­van­taged. Each em­ployee re­ceived a min­i­mum of 1 000 shares and 80 for ev­ery year em­ployed. As if to counter their move, Net­care said it had be­come one of the first large com­pa­nies in SA to “sig­nif­i­cantly” sub­sidise med­i­cal aid cover to its staff that were un­able to af­ford it.

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