Human Resources Management Specialist, Dr Joyce Ayeni.

PhD Study on Drain of Doctors from Public Health into Private Sector

The movement of medical doctors from the public to the private health sector is a major challenge facing South Africa as it leaves many citizens without quality health care.

This is what prompted UKZN Human Resources Management Specialist Dr Joyce Ayeni to embark on research investigating the root causes of the situation and possible solutions for it.

Ayeni received a Doctor of Philosophy degree for her thesis titled: Migration of Medical Doctors from the Public to the Private sector: A Case Study of Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Hospital and Life Healthcare Hospital Group, Durban.

She worked with School of Management, IT and Governance academic Professor Sanjana Brijball Paramasur.

Ayeni’s study revealed that the public health’s employee relations policy was the main reason for the migration, also identifying the moratorium on employment identified as another cause.

Her research also identified monetary and non-monetary rewards as factors exacerbating the problem together with the general dissatisfaction of medical doctors in the public health sector.

Ayeni recommended various retention strategies for the public health sector to consider including strengthening communication and the involvement of employees in decision-making procedures, quick resolution of labour disputes, embracing a total reward approach, talent management planning, succession planning, and clear alignment of personal values with organisational values and the lifting of the moratorium on employment.

Ayeni said the shortage of medical doctors in the public health care sector impacted on her during the data collection stages of her research as doctors were not always readily available to contribute to her study due to a heavy workload and long hours.

After receiving her doctorate, Ayeni said: ‘I am elated but at the same time humbled by the opportunity to contribute to the improvement of something as significant as human resources for health.’

Ayeni has already shared her research with other scholars through presentations at the International Conference on Business, Economics, Management and Marketing at Oxford University in England as well as at the 4th Academic International Conference on Interdisciplinary Legal Studies at Harvard University, United States.

Ayeni intends doing further research on human resources in the health sector as well as other sectors of the economy as the importance of human capital to the growth of the economy is vital.

She said her husband Dr Olasunkanmi Ayeni, a medical doctor by profession, and their two children Moyinoluwa and Rereloluwa are delighted with her achievement.

Words: Hazel Langa