Time to put the welfare of health workers before profits
Private health-care providers pay dividends but neglect frontline staff
As the Covid-19 pandemic continues its assault, there is a desire by some to return to a business-as-usual, shareholder-first model, but business as usual led us here. Covid-19 sounds a warning bell when this shareholder philosophy infiltrates a sector as crucial as health care. Over the past four years Netcare, Life Healthcare and Mediclinic, the country’s three largest private health-care providers with a market share of about 80%, paid out more to shareholders than they made in profits. These payouts amounted to an average of R92m a week and R19bn in four years.
During this period health-care workers have suffered increased job insecurity as more nurses are stripped of security, benefits such as medical aid, a minimum number of guaranteed hours, and are outsourced to labour brokers under more precarious working conditions during the pandemic. ..