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South Africa’s Nursing Shortage Becoming Critical, Netcare Says - BLOOMBERG

MAY 23, 2023

BY  Janice KewBloomberg News

(Bloomberg) -- South Africa is facing a critical shortage of nurses as private hospitals are restricted from training more of the caregivers, according to the country’s largest private health-care network.

Although most South African hospitals have their own nursing colleges, only designated universities can issue professional nursing qualifications. This is despite the fact that the country has an estimated shortage of between 26,000 and 62,000 nurses, as well as a large proportion of health workers due to retire by 2030, Richard Friedland, chief executive officer of Netcare Ltd. said in an interview Monday.

“The tragedy is we’ve got tens of thousands of people applying to become nurses every year and in a country that is beset by such a skill shortage, by such rampant unemployment, it’s almost inexplicable that government isn’t opening the doors to allow the private sector to train,” he said.

Netcare has capacity to train more than 3,500 nurses a year, but has only been accredited to take about 10% of that, said Friedland. He said the company is collaborating with the government and other bodies to try and make better use of excess nursing college capacity. 

“It’s akin to the Eskom crisis,” he said, referring to the crippling power cuts South Africa is facing because Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd., the state-owned company that supplies about 90% of the nation’s electricity, can’t meet demand from its dilapidated plants. “The private sector, through the Hospital Association of South Africa, is galvanized at the moment. We’re exploring all of our options in this regard and we’re not excluding taking legal action.”

Nursing shortages are not unique to South Africa and many countries are facing severe shortages of workers post-pandemic. 

Netcare earlier reported a rise in paid patient days in the six months through March compared with a year earlier, and said it expects full-year revenue growth of between 9% and 12%.


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