South Africa kisses the ‘next generation of doctors’ goodbye

 ·21 May 2024

An Immigration expert has noted that thousands of doctors and other healthcare workers have left South Africa over the NHI, and more will follow as the Global North can’t get enough of them.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has made good on his promise to sign the National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill into law before the 2024 national election, bringing the contentious healthcare system into South Africa’s reality.

The president signed the NHI into law at a ceremony on Wednesday (15 May).

In his address ahead of the bill’s signing, Ramaphosa again rebuked critics, saying that anyone trying to maintain the status quo was out of line with the global imperative to pursue universal healthcare.

However, NHI jitters and fear of this new reality for South Africa’s healthcare system have sent skilled healthcare professionals running for the exit.

Canadian immigration consultant Nicholas Avramis told BusinessTech that Beaver Immigration had seen a 50% spike in interest from doctors and nurses who want to immigrate to Canada.

Concerningly, he noted this has mostly come from newly graduated doctors who had just completed their community service, and the NHI Bill is to blame.

“All of the doctors who come to us note the NHI. They see it as an existential threat to their livelihood,” said Avramis.

Avramis added that since July 2023, Canada and its provinces have selected 10,000 healthcare workers and doctors for immediate permanent residency through the Express Entry system.

According to Canada’s official stats office, 14,205 South Africans have successfully received permanent residence in the country since 2015, with the number of locals leaving increasing each year.

475 South Africans have become permanent residents in Canada in 2024 so far.

Notably, while the NHI was a factor for nurses heading for the exit, the main driver was the lack of pay, career growth, and workplace safety.

Commenting on the reasons these doctors and nurses are choosing Canada, Avramis said the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada recognises South Africa’s healthcare education – meaning they don’t need to get re-certified.

“It’s pretty much a plug-and-play scenario for them,” he said.

Compounding the loss of South Africa’s valuable doctors and nurses is the global shortage and resultant recruitment drives to attract doctors globally—and the NHI is a major advantage for these recruiters, including Beaver Immigration.

“As the NHI has come into law and caused serious concerns in South Africa’s healthcare sector, the main driver of healthcare professionals will come from foreign recruitment.

“There is a race to recruit healthcare professionals in the Global North (Canada, France, UK, UAE, Qatar, etc.),” Avramis said.

“They don’t see a future here. South Africa will lose its next generation of doctors as they are in demand globally,” he added.

Avramis also noted that the global demand for South African healthcare professionals is so great that Beaver Immigration will ramp up its recruitment of doctors and nurses starting in June 2024.

Read: The twisted ‘good’ news about the NHI

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