Specialist nurses, chemists, dentists added to SA critical skills list

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  • Home Secretary Aaron Motsoaledi has included 41 specialist healthcare professional codes in the list of essential skills.
  • This will see a range of out-of-country healthcare professionals prioritized in South Africa’s expatriate migration system.
  • Six categories of specialist nurses have been included in the latest list of essential skills, including trauma, pediatric and midwifery nurses.
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A variety of specialist healthcare workers, including chemists, specialist nurse educators, anesthesiologists and dentists, were added to the list of essential skills this week.

Home Secretary Aaron Motsoaledi has updated the list of essential skills to include 41 occupational codes in the healthcare sector, according to a notice in the official gazette. The list of essential skills includes qualifications that government immigration authorities commit to prioritizing when allowing working expatriates to have a regulated legal stay in South Africa.

This is done to allow skills that are scarce locally to enter the country. The move is widely seen as a proactive response to the shortage of healthcare professionals in the South African labor market. A shortage of nurses in the health sector has even affected private hospitals.

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The Hospital Association of South Africa (Hasa) warned in a circular that the shortage of nurses in South Africa has placed an even greater burden on practicing nurses during the Covid-19 pandemic, exacerbating the ” longer-term frustrations” and the “deterioration of working conditions” in the profession.

“These frustrations have been widely studied and documented over the decades, in journals, journals and conferences. The nursing crisis has deepened dramatically since the consolidation of nursing schools in the 1980s and 1990s,” Hasa Chairman Andre Joseph and Hasa CEO Dr. Dumisani Bomela said in a joint circular.

But Hasa warns that the challenges are more complex than they appear. They said to assume that the nursing shortage could be solved simply by employing unemployed nurses in previously unfunded positions would underestimate the scale of the crisis in specialist nursing categories.

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The list of essential skills included six categories of specialist nurses, namely specialist midwifery, pediatric nursing, emergency nursing, perioperative nursing, mental health nursing and critical care.

According to a Business day report, Netcare’s head of nursing education, Toy Vermaak, said the healthcare provider had dropped from 500 qualified nurses a year to just 80, even though Netcare received 23,000 applications for just 130 training positions in the nursing profession.

The list of essential skills includes specialists and dentists in the fields of oral pathology, oral surgery and periodontics. The list also includes industrial pharmacists, radiation oncology specialists, psychiatrists, reconstructive plastic surgeons, virologists, medical examiners and neurosurgeons.

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