n South African Journal of Labour Relations - Addressing the nursing shortage at Netcare : a new remedy or the same prescription?




The Netcare Group, one of South Africa's largest healthcare providers, was experiencing a shortage of skilled nursing staff, which impacted on the quality of service delivery and staff morale. The challenge was to find creative solutions to this problem, the traditional ways of addressing staff shortages having been exhausted given the context of nursing in South Africa. In essence, the management of Netcare had to find ways of making the most efficient and effective use of existing nursing skills in their medical facilities. To do so Netcare had to challenge traditional human resource practices and modes of organisational development. Using a case method approach, this paper details the processes used by the Human Resource Director and her team, in consultation with the Nursing Director, to attract and retain skilled nurses within the Netcare group. The case provides information for human resource practitioners to consider in attracting and retaining staff, but also, through the literature review and the discussion of the case, suggests new and creative ways of addressing a contemporary problem. The case study methodology provides insight into how theory can generate "best practice" as well as how practice can contribute to theory building through the reflective and systematic analysis of an approach to a problem. Given the general skills shortages in South Africa in most professions, the problem highlighted by the Netcare case is applicable to all South African organisations. It demands that human resource practitioners think divergently and devise creative ways of both framing problems and considering solutions.


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