Healthcare professionals in South Africa are depressed and doubt that the implementation of NHI will contribute to improving the sustainability of the profession, according to the results of the annual PPS Graduate Professionals Index published this week.

Launched in 2016, the index is based on the results of an annual survey conducted among main professional groups in the medical, dental, pharmaceutical, engineering, accounting, legal and ‘other’ fields. This year, a total of 5837 interviews were completed.

In interviews conducted with medical professionals, 73% of the respondents agreed that many doctors are depressed and suffering from burnout due to long working hours and poor working conditions. They also doubted whether the NHI will make any difference to their current circumstances with 72% saying that they don’t think it will improve the sustainability of the profession.

Asked what can be done to encourage doctors to stay in South Africa rather than move abroad, 33% thought that the socioeconomic situation needs to be improved, 30% suggested better working conditions, and 19% suggested better salaries and incentives.

According to 26% of the respondents, the healthcare system can be improved by anti-corruption and better management of funds and 12% suggested adequate staffing based on merit and not on race.

While 47% of respondents believed that the deployment of newly qualified doctors to rural areas has improved access to healthcare in general, 23% said that this policy has discouraged doctors from entering the profession.

Pharmacists

Pharmacists who were interviewed indicated that they received adequate training (74%), but 88% of the respondents thought that big retail pharmacy chains were threatening the future of community pharmacists. According to 86%, the current NHI proposals don’t adequately address pharmacists’ role in the healthcare system. While 62% agreed that there were skill shortages, most of them felt that it could be addressed by improved levels of education and training and improved financial and business skills.

Source: PPS Graduate Professionals Index