Interview on Newzroom Afrika on the topic: Massive shortage of nurses in South Africa


In South Africa there is a severe shortage of nurses. With one nurse to every 213 patients, this is a grim situation. The health minister, Mr Joe Phaahla, spoke earlier in the month and indicated that there is a 3 to 1 ratio of doctors to patients in South Africa. Donald McMillian, MD of Allmed, was interviewed on Newzroom Afrika regarding this massive shortage of healthcare workers.

Mr McMillian expressed that South African’s are not aware of the extend of this crisis and what is on the horizon with regards to these numbers. There is no quick fix to this problem, a long-term plan needs to be implemented. The shortage of nurses is both in the private and public healthcare sector.

There are some nurses being trained in the public sector however in the private sector, the number of nurses that are allowed to be trained is restricted. Despite the lack of nurses, several hospitals in Gauteng have reported that nurses have not had their contracts renewed because of budget restraints.

Mr McMillian indicated that this is where an organisation like Allmed plays a vital role. Allmed caters for recruitment of both permanent, and temporary medical professionals in both the public and private sectors. This solution can offer the flexibility to healthcare facilities to scale up or down and ensure that resources are provided when they are needed most.

Mr McMillian indicated that now, there are about 21,000 nurses that are currently in training which is insufficient. There is a 47,000 shortage of nurses lacking that need to be trained.

Current nurses are on the brink of burnout after two years of being at the front lines of COVID-19. If we don’t get more nurses on board, the situation will become more dire. A lot of the nurses are leaving the country and immigrating. The emotional and physical impact of COVID-19 on the nurses has been huge, but due to the lack of nurses, these nurses have not been able to recharge.

Currently in South Africa, we are not able to retain our nurses in terms of salaries and working conditions offered. Many nurses are immigrating as they are offered better salaries and benefits. South Africa has a myriad of issues that need to be addressed to keep our nurses here, which needs to be done urgently to avoid a serious situation in our Healthcare system.

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