Human resource management practices in a medical complex in the Eastern Cape, South Africa: Assessing their impact on the retention of doctors

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South African Medical Journal

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BACKGROUND: Human resource management (HRM) practices have the potential to influence retention of doctors in the public health sector. OBJECTIVE: To explore the key human resource (HR) practices affecting doctors in a medical complex in the Eastern Cape, South Africa. METHODS: We used an open-ended questionnaire to gather data from 75 doctors in this setting. RESULTS: The most important HR practices were paying salaries on time and accurately, the management of documentation, communication, HR staff showing that they respected and valued the doctors, and reimbursement for conferences and special leave requests. All these practices were judged to be poorly administered. Essential HR characteristics were ranked in the following order: task competence of HR staff, accountability, general HR efficiency, occupation-specific dispensation adjustments and performance management and development system efficiency, and availability of HR staff. All these characteristics were judged to be poor. CONCLUSION: HRM practices in this Eastern Cape medical complex were inadequate and a source of frustration. This lack of efficiency could lead to further problems with regard to retaining doctors in public sector service.