Monday, 15 April, 2024
HomeNews UpdateAmended Critical Skills List a short-term fix to shortages, say health institutions

Amended Critical Skills List a short-term fix to shortages, say health institutions

The revised version of Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi’s Critical Skills List, which now includes numerous medical specialists, nurses and doctors, has been met with relief after its publication in the Government Gazette.

The country’s biggest doctor organisation, the SA Medical Association (SAMA), welcomed the inclusion of healthcare professionals, but said it was a short-term fix for government’s failure to ensure enough doctors and nurses were trained to meet SA’s needs, reports Business Live.

“Most of us (were) incredulous that a former Health Minister could allow a scarce skills list to leave off doctors when he knows we have a diabolical shortage. SAMA thoroughly supports the inclusion of doctors on the scarce skills list, but the bottom line is we don’t train enough doctors,” it said.

SA trains about 2 200 doctors a year, a fraction of the 20 000 trained by the UK with a population 1.25 times bigger than that of SA, it said.

The previous version, released by Motsoaledi in February, had completely omitted healthcare workers, despite the country’s critical shortages in the medical field. Their exclusion was all the more baffling since Motsoaledi consistently drew attention to the skills deficit in the healthcare sector when he was Health Minister between 2009 and 2019.

The Hospital Association of SA (HASA), which represents private hospitals, said the amended list was only the first step. “As the list is an interim relief measure … a more sustainable solution is to remove the constraints that prevent the public and private sectors from working at full capacity to train and build a human resource for healthcare skills,” said spokesperson Mark Peach.

The list smoothes the way for employers to hire foreign nationals to fill the gaps in the country’s workforce. Foreigners holding qualifications on the list can apply for a Critical Skills work visa to enter SA. If they secure a job before arriving here, the visa is valid for five years; if not, it is valid for a year. The visa can be renewed.

The amended list includes specialist nurse educators, and nurses specialising in midwifery, theatre, psychiatry, critical care, trauma and paediatrics, as well as specialists in anaesthetics, cardiothoracic surgery, emergency medicine, neurology, paediatrics, plastic surgery, pathology, radiation oncology and surgery, among others.

The Health Department’s 2030 human resources strategy projects a shortage of 34 000 professional nurses by 2025, while research by health consultancy Percept found SA had less than 10 000 full-time equivalent specialists serving the entire country in 2018.


BusinessLive article – Return of health workers to skills list hailed as a first step (Open access)


See more from MedicalBrief archives:


Medical posts added to revised Critical Skills List – finally


Medical interns from African countries struggle after removal from SA critical skills list


HASA chief: Medical omissions from Critical Skills List ‘incomprehensible’


Hospital Association ‘perplexed’ by omission of medical skills from Critical Skills List


Critical Skills List: ‘Vocal’ Motsoaledi has changed his tune



MedicalBrief — our free weekly e-newsletter

We'd appreciate as much information as possible, however only an email address is required.