Thursday, 22 April 2021 15:25

By Coenie Smith,Nedbank National Manager for Medical Professionals.

A developing and progressive healthcare sector is the lifeblood of any nation. In SA, achieving such a well-functioning healthcare sector requires the commitment and support of both the government and private sector. However, while we have a robust regulatory framework, proactive health policies, and excellent healthcare education and training institutions, our country still suffers from a lack of adequate placement of qualified medical talent in hospitals and regions that have a need for their skills. This is part of the reason why the country's healthcare system is under pressure.

In 2017, the World Bank estimated that South Africa has only 0,9 doctors for every 1 000 citizens. This is a significant challenge, given how low the number is compared to that of many other countries. Switzerland, for example, has 4,3 doctors for every 1 000 citizens. The strain this is putting on SA's healthcare workers was documented in a recent survey by Rajan Engelbrecht titled 'Cross-sectional burnout amongst doctors in a cohort of public sector emergency centres in Gauteng'. The findings showed that South African healthcare workers have a higher prevalence of stress-related mental disorders compared to the general population and report higher rates of burnout than their international peers.

In 2020, Covid-19 added even more pressure to this already distressed industry as hospitals filled up with patients, placing healthcare professionals at high risk of infection and leaving frontline workers physically and mentally exhausted.

Government has taken some steps towards finding a solution for this pressure on SA's medical fraternity. In November 2019, the National Department of Health reported to parliament that a new Human Resources for Health strategy was being developed that would give guidance on the number of health workers needed for effective service delivery in the public and private sectors, as well as strategies for dealing with key health resource challenges.

Unfortunately, this is a long-term solution, and the country's healthcare workers need support urgently. It's important that as many private industries as possible step in to give that support in their particular areas of expertise. Banks are a prime example of where such support opportunities exist, and by delivering accessible, affordable and meaningful financial solutions, these financial institutions have a way of not only relieving the pressure in at least one area of most medical professionals' lives, but also, hopefully, attracting more young professionals to practise healthcare in South Africa, thereby gradually relieving the pressure on the sector as a whole by upwardly adjusting the doctor-to-citizen ratios over time.

At Nedbank, we know that medical professionals, especially interns and those just starting out in professional practice, work very long hours and have little time for anything else – least of all banking and day-to-day money management. So, we have designed our medical professional offering to offer the vital financial support that these individuals need and remove the stress of money matters from their daily lives to allow them to focus on their profession and at least have a semblance of a personal and family life.

Our dedicated Medical Professional Banking offering provides the option of a single, integrated facility or a bundled product, both of which deliver a private-banking experience, available at a 50% reduction in monthly fees for those under the age of 30. These features include a range of exclusive benefits and rewards, tailored home loan and vehicle finance packages, and dedicated relationship bankers with medical-industry knowledge and experience, who are on call to help our young medical professional clients with optimising their banking experience and finances.

But possibly the most compelling feature of the Medical Professional Banking offering is the fact that it is based on our understanding of the demands that our country's medical professionals face, and the fact that this leaves little to no time for other everyday needs, like banking and finances.

As such, our solutions have been created as our way of investing in the lives and futures of these young medical professionals in the same way that they invest daily in the health of others.

Through Nedbank's digital banking platforms such as the Nedbank Money app and Online Banking, individuals can conveniently view and transact on their accounts anywhere and anytime. Because at Nedbank, we honestly believe that by tangibly supporting our healthcare practitioners in whatever way we can, we will also be supporting a healthier future for our country.