Defining a retention strategy for pharmacists in the public sector in Kwa-Zulu Natal
Thesis (MBA)--University of Stellenbosch, 2011.
There is a global scarcity of health care workers (Boseley, 2011: 1). There has been global competition for the scarce resource, with developing countries competing for their own health care workers (Padarath et al., 2004: 5). The health outcomes of a country have been directly correlated with the quantity and quality of its health human resources (Dolea et al., 2005: 3). Pharmacists, who were ranked as the third scarcest professional group in the world, are the most accessible of all health workers (Chan & Wuliji, 2006: 7). The shortage of pharmacists has resulted in inaccessibility to drug treatment, prevention and care, resulting in an insurmountable number of preventable deaths and disease. The number of pharmacists in KwaZulu-Natal province is currently 383, with a 76% vacancy rate (Avery, 2011). The aim of the present study was to define a retention strategy for public sector pharmacists in KwaZulu-Natal province. This self-administered questionnaire survey was participated in by 103 pharmacists. Pharmaceutical services were found predominantly to have been rendered by young (with 32% falling in the age group 22–29 years of age and 36% falling in the age group 30–39 years), Indian (74%), female (82%) pharmacists. Many (68%) of the pharmacists concerned were new entrants (having been in employ for a period of 0–5 years) in the public sector, with just over half (36%) being new entrants into the pharmacy profession, meaning that two-thirds of the public sector pharmaceutical workforce lacked the experience and expertise to make the desired service delivery changes in said environment. The top three motivations for job changes were found to be financial (27%), working conditions (26%) and career advancement opportunities (22%). A third of the respondents were found to be satisfied with the Occupation-specific Dispensation. The remainder of the pharmacists were equally divided about whether they regarded the payout to be inadequate or fair. Nonetheless, 20 per cent had definite intentions to leave, with 40 per cent having no intention to leave, and 40 per cent being uncertain about doing so. Such a finding correlated well with the fact that 24% of the respondents indicated that they felt that they were earning inadequate salaries. The finding did not correlate with the overwhelming response (83%) that money was not the most important consideration in making the choice. The pharmacists were divided regarding career-advancing opportunities in the public sector. Such a finding was echoed in a comparable division of who had access to information on career-advancing opportunities. Two-thirds of the respondents neither shared their goals regarding career progression with their supervisors, nor applied for any such posts. The top three factors that pharmacists liked about their jobs were financial, resources and congenial working conditions. Resources, working conditions and lack of career progression factors were disliked; resources, career progression and financial factors could result in turnover. In summary, money, career progression and resources matter. The pharmacists in the province were found to be satisfied with their earnings. They wanted to be rewarded on merit and were prepared to move to receive this and support in career progression. The National Department of Health (KwaZulu-Natal) must drive recruitment efforts to address the skills shortage, improve working conditions and ensure that salaries keep pace with inflation to create long-term wins for the public health sector.