Mediclinic and Stellenbosch partner to train doctors

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Private hospital group [b]Mediclinic Southern Africa[/b] and [b]Stellenbosch University’s[/b] medical school have announced a partnership for training undergraduate doctors, a development they say will help increase the number of doctors who can be produced in [b]SA[/b]. [s]Business Day[/s] reports that demand for the limited places at SA’s medical school far exceeds supply, and the schools turn out far fewer doctors than SA needs.

About 1,200 doctors graduate from SA’s medical schools each year, and the government has since 1995 turned to [b]Cuba[/b] to help boost these numbers. The partnership with MediClinic was in line with the objectives of the [b]National Development Plan[/b], which includes the private sector as key in the development of a skilled workforce, said Jimmy Volmink, dean of the faculty of medicine and health sciences at Stellenbosch University.

The training of doctors has traditionally taken place primarily at the biggest and most specialised, or tertiary, public hospitals such as [b]Groote Schuur[/b] and [b]Tygerberg[/b]. While these institutions provided excellent training opportunities, medical students benefited from learning in other settings too, said Prof Volmink. Students studying medicine at Stellenbosch University already had exposure to patients in rural areas. Providing them with access to the private sector was also part of the institution’s attempt to broaden their horizons, he said.

Mediclinic Southern Africa CEO Koert Pretorius said his company already trained about 1,000 nurses a year, but this was its first formal arrangement with a medical school to help train doctors. Mediclinic had concluded that investing in a private medical school was not feasible, he said. The initiative is backed by [b]Western Cape[/b] health MEC Theuns Botha, a vocal advocate for public-private partnerships.

‘The closer we can work with the private sector the better,’ he said. He said the Western Cape government planned to make legislative changes to enable the private sector to become involved in training doctors on a larger scale. ‘It is not reasonable to expect the private sector to accept co-responsibility for health care, but prohibit them from participation in training. The private sector is involved in the training of nursing staff, and I see no reason why this cannot be expanded to medical doctors,’ he said.

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