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Database lets hospitals hire staff faster

Abu Dhabi streamlines the bureaucratic process for getting much-needed medical professionals into vacancies in the emirate.

ABU DHABI // Hospitals in the capital now have access to a database of more than 1,000 approved medical staff following a drive to speed up the process of hiring doctors. The development follows complaints from several hospitals that attempt to avert an impending staffing crisis were being hamstrung by the slow process of bureaucratic approval. The online database compiled by Health Authority-Abu Dhabi (HAAD) includes approved staff from Egypt, India, Jordan, North Korea, Lebanon, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

It contains radiographers, radiotherapy technicians and physiotherapists, as well as practical, registered and school nurses who have passed HAAD's Computer Based Testing, either in Abu Dhabi or in one of 14 international testing centres. Anyone on the list can be licensed to work in the emirate as soon as a they are hired by a hospital or clinic. "Our 2009 statistics show there is a huge demand on healthcare because of the population increase in Abu Dhabi," said Dr Jamal al Kaabi, head of corporate communications at HAAD.

"We are not authorised to share candidates' public information, such as contact details, names and addresses, until they give consent." For the 1,090 candidates who passed and gave their consent, a public, online database has been set up by HAAD to facilitate the recruitment process. It is accessible at www.haad.ae/passlist. HAAD estimates that up to 5,000 more doctors and 6,500 more nurses will be needed by 2019. Taking into account those who leave, the emirate needs to hire 1,500 doctors and 1,800 nurses a year.

Although Dr al Kaabi insisted HAAD's recruitment and licensing process was "not harsh", he said hospitals and clinics had struggled to recruit enough qualified staff that meet the authority's criteria. HAAD began introducing international testing centres in January 2009, but this is the first time it has released a public list of pre-approved candidates. It will be constantly updated with approved candidates. "Healthcare facilities and recruitment agencies will be able to contact anyone on the list knowing they meet our criteria, and will thus be licensed faster," said Dr al Kaabi.

HAAD plans to introduce tests for more specialities, including pharmacists and medical lab technicians, by next year. There are currently 5,142 doctors, 8,142 nurses and 5,630 allied health professionals working in 1,077 licensed healthcare facilities in Abu Dhabi. Dr Khaled Kamhieh, a consultant surgeon at Al Reef Hospital in Abu Dhabi, said: "This will save a lot of time and money. It is crucial that HAAD adds specialities like cardiologists and endocrinologists to its database as soon as possible."

@Email:hkhalaf@thenational.ae

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