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Foreign recruitment is often a careful balancing act to ensure all healthcare facilities receive the doctors they need.
Rosanna Moonsamy, AHP’s recruitment consultant for KwaZulu-Natal, says it can often be quite tricky to make sure the mobile and scarce healthcare worker resources are used as effectively as possible.
She uses Ngwelezana Hospital as an example. This hospital is a 554-bed hospital outside Richards Bay in KwaZulu-Natal, which has become very popular among foreign doctors wanting to work in rural South Africa. The hospital is particularly popular among doctors from the UK. It has received a lot of publicity in the UK with several articles appearing in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) over the last few years. Doctors also receive excellent training opportunities and supervision from experienced doctors at the hospital. All this has contributed to making the facility the number one choice for many UK doctors. In 2008, AHP placed 30 foreign doctors at Ngwelezana Hospital. In 2010, 35 doctors were interested in working there, but there were not enough vacancies for all of them. Local doctors have also been attracted to the hospital which proves the effectiveness of AHP’s recruitment model.
According to the model, an effective management structure has to be in place. Foreign-qualified health professionals who are willing to work in rural areas can then be recruited. Once a contingent of foreign doctors is in place, local workers are more easily attracted. With a team of experienced doctors on board, junior doctors and trainees will follow because they have the opportunity to be properly supervised and mentored. Management can focus on using the facility’s improved capacity effectively and a facility can then become self-sustainable.
It is of course great news for a facility if it becomes so popular with both local and foreign doctors that it starts to become self-sustainable. But it might create challenges for other nearby hospitals as they could struggle to attract doctors.
To solve this, Rosanna started recruiting doctors, who were initially interested in Ngwelezana, to work at Stanger Hospital in KwaDukuza, about an hour’s drive from Durban. The hospital also offers doctors excellent training opportunities under the supervision of senior doctors.
Rosanna says it is often quite difficult to convince doctors to try another facility if their heart is set on Ngwelezana Hospital. Some insist on waiting for a vacancy, but Rosanna tries to convince most doctors to have five choices to ensure a successful placement.
This has worked very well to attract more doctors to work at Stanger Hospital. AHP placed eight doctors there last year and another 19 doctors will start working at the hospital this year.