Updated GP and Specialist Numbers for SA

HEALTH REFORM NOTE 7, OCTOBER 2010

This note builds on National Health Insurance (NHI) Note 4 that was published in November 2009.1 In that note the dif cul- ties in obtaining accurate data on human resources in health (HRH) in South Africa (SA) were pointed out. At that stage an effort was made to collect data from various sources and to collate the data in order to arrive at a fair picture of the number of doctors and nurses in South Africa. Care was also tak- en to emphasise the problems and gaps in the of cially available data.

The recent release of the ANC’s latest NHI proposal in September 2010, prompted us to update our initial HRH gures with the latest available data. This note shows that contrary to of cially quoted sources that state that there are 36,912 doctors practising in South Africa, we nd evidence of only 27,432 doctors practising in total (17,802 general practition- ers (GPs) and 9,630 specialists).

Furthermore, when the distribu- tion of these doctors between the public and private sectors is examined, our research indi- cates an almost equal distribu- tion of GPs between the two sectors: 2,861 people per GP in the public sector and 2,723 peo- ple per GP in the private sector. We nd that contrary to popular perceptions about the spread of resources, the majority (61.9%) of GPs work in the public sector. While more specialists (56.2%) work in the private sector, the population ratios are also not as skewed as commonly believed.

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