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Abu Dhabi: The emirate needs to recruit about 3,400 doctors and nurses annually to meet the demand, the Health Authority Abu Dhabi (HAAD) said on Tuesday.

Even though 1,090 medical professionals are ready to be recruited by hospitals after successfully passing HAAD's computer-based testing, hospitals feel they will not be enough to cover the shortfall.

If the demand for health professionals remains the same as last year, another 1,600 doctors and almost 1,800 nurses will be required annually, statistics evident for a HAAD statement show. It is estimated that up to 5,000 more doctors and 6,500 nurses will be required by 2019.

When Gulf News spoke to various public and private hospitals about the current recruitment process of health care professionals, they explained that the procedure is tedious and long.

Some of the common challenges include the short notice sent by HAAD — resulting in no-show among medical doctors, shortage of licensed General Practitioners, and low percentage of radiographers and physiotherapist passing the test.

Clarification planned

HAAD has not specified whether recruitment procedures for medical staff will be re-visited. However, the authority said the licensing and recruitment regulations need to be clarified to help ease the shortage pressure hospitals are facing.

Recruitment and licensing renewals for health professionals will be clearly addressed in a press conference HAAD is planning to organise in August, a senior official told Gulf News.

In HAAD's efforts to address the health care sector's demand for certain specialities, qualified medical staff have the choice of sitting for their exams in testing centres in Egypt, India, Jordan, North Korea, Lebanon, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE.

Streamlining

For Dr Shamsheer V.P, managing director at Lifeline hospital, HAAD's decision to release the names of those who have passed the examinations is timely, and a big step forward for all the health care providers as the demand increases.

"At present this list applies to nurses, physiotherapists and paramedical staff but it will be helpful if in the future it includes doctors as well. We are delighted that HAAD on behalf of us has started streamlining the whole process, this will benefit the health care providers, the candidates and ultimately the patients," Dr Shamsheer said.

Dr B.R. Shetty, managing director of NMC Group, applauded HAAD's new online database that makes matters easier when recruiting health professionals, and would like to see more such initiatives to help cater to the growing demand of health care sector.

Dr Atul Mehta, chief medical officer of the Shaikh Khalifa Medical City, said that the shortage of qualified physicians, nurses and paramedical/clinical staff is a worldwide phenomenon.

"It is here in the UAE as well. We look forward to working with HAAD to find ways to successfully bridge the current gap," said Dr Mehta.

Comment: Database to help

Comments by Zaid Al Siksik, HAAD CEO: "Despite the increase in the number of medical staff in the emirate of Abu Dhabi, the emirate is witnessing an increasing population growth, which resulted in increasing demand for health care services, and the need for more qualified medical staff. To address this demand, the HAAD has launched an online database of candidates who have successfully passed HAAD's computer-based examinations and made it accessible to all licensed health care facilities in the emirate.

"This initiative should help and support health care facilities in recruitment process and reduce financial and search burden, and in some cases international travel to reach to qualified medical staff."

Test result

Hospitals can review the details of 1,090 candidates, who have passed HAAD's test, on https://www.haad.ae/passlist

HAAD: 2009 statistics

- 5,000 more doctors and 6,500 nurses will be required by 2019

- 1,600 doctors and almost 1,800 nurses will be required to be recruited annually.

HAAD 2010 projection

- 5,142 doctors required.

- 8,142 nurses needed.

- 5,630 allied health professionals for 1,077 licensed facilities.