In 2010, the World Health Organization issued a report stating that the shortage of nurses is a general deficiency worldwide, in both developing and developed countries. In 2017, Saudi Arabia launched its Vision 2030 strategy, placing health sector development at its top. Then, in 2019, health sectors around the world fell into a dilemma with the COVID-19 pandemic, and their flaws showed up clearly in every country. Some healthcare systems collapsed completely, even though they belonged to developed countries such as the USA. Others stood firmly during the pandemic and made an extraordinary performance that dazzled the world, such as the sector of healthcare in Saudi Arabia.
Nurses dominate the largest scale of human resources in healthcare industry worldwide, and it is certain that the shortage of nursing staff is a general problem overall. Nevertheless, it seems that the annual health precautions that the Kingdom takes during Hajj and Umrah played a significant role in the stability of the health sector in the Kingdom during the pandemic. Also, the plan for developing the health sector in the Vision 2030 strategy contributed to passing through the pandemic with minimal loss.
In Vision 2030, healthcare and medical services are given top priority, aiming to maximize utilization of hospitals and medical facilities, improve the quality of health services, both preventive and curative, provide preventive medicine to citizens, combat infectious diseases, and achieve maximum benefits for the population.
The most prominent goals for Vision 2030 by the end of 2025 are:
- 88% of the population centers, including the peripheral areas, will be covered by the healthcare system.
- 100% of the population will be covered by the unified digital medical record.
All of these objectives require substantial investments to establish more hospitals and medical centers, raise the standard of their services, hire a larger number of nursing staff, and enhance professional competence among health sector workers.
According to statistical reports, the Kingdom will require 150,000 nursing personnel by 2030. This is due to the low percentage of health professionals in Saudi Arabia, with less than 40% of Saudis practicing these professions:
|Number of qualified Saudi nursing workforce per 100,000 population||6 nurses for every 100,000|
|Number of intensive care beds available per 100,000 population||14 beds|
|The number of visits to outer clinics in primary care centers that lead to emergency treatment||% 3|
|Number of qualified nursing personnel per 100,000 population||583 nurses for every 100,000|
In addition, the Kingdom is witnessing an increase in its population of at least 1.02% annually; the World Bank has predicted that the population will surpass 45 million by the year 2050. With the increase in population comes a pressing need to increase capacity in the health care sector, including the expansion of no less than 18,400 new beds in hospitals, and the expansion of recruitment and retention professionals and qualified human resources in healthcare.
Consequently, the Kingdom began to attract expatriate workers in the health care sector, particularly from the Philippines, where 6,500 nursing cadres are allowed to be hired abroad. Nonetheless, there is fierce competition among countries to hire them, due to the dire need for nursing personnel throughout the world.
Furthermore, a number of significant steps have been taken to attract qualified personnel to the healthcare system in Saudi Arabia. Among the most important were:
1- Attracting new expatriates to healthcare cadres, Filipinos in particular. It was once a challenge for the Saudi government to retain Filipino nursing staff; however, the Kingdom worked to ensure that a number of rights were met appropriately and promptly for each worker. Moreover, the Kingdom stipulated a minimum number of rest hours per day, as well as weekends, holidays, and paid annual leaves for each expatriate worker.
2- Increasing the salaries of healthcare industry personnel. As part of its Vision 2030 initiative, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia raised healthcare personnel salaries, especially nurses. A number of special privileges and allowances have been added, including relocation allowances, residence allowances, and incentives, on a monthly and semi-annual basis. A nurse’s salary is also determined by his or her level of experience and academic degree; the earnings of a nurse with a bachelor’s degree in nursing can be lower than those of a nurse with a master’s degree.
3- Digitizing the recruiting process. Every recruiting company and service provider, whether they are recruiting nurses from the Philippines or from other countries, now operates an electronic platform that belongs to the Saudi government. That alone facilitated the recruiting process and connected recruiting companies and offices with Saudi government portals. It also created a database for all workers in the healthcare system in Saudi Arabia, standardized employment practices, and streamlined salary payments. In light of all these factors, the Kingdom stood by its demand for health personnel for the coming period.
4. Modifying the regulations, organizing labor rights generally, expatriate workers in particular, and developing a list of health-related positions;
- Maximum number of working hours per day, and overtime compensation.
- A number of allowances for healthcare personnel, some of which are tailored specifically for Saudis, and others are tailored specifically for non-Saudis, such as expatriation allowances, and relocation allowances.
- Adding healthcare workers to the salary protection program, which ensures each worker receives his full salary on time.
- Developing mandatory digital platforms for all recruitment companies and offices.
The healthcare system in Saudi Arabia has already recorded many achievements, which herald the achievement of future goals for Vision 2030, including:
1- Digitization of the health sector; one of the implementations is the launch of some applications that facilitate individuals’ access to health care services, such as the Sehhaty and Mawid apps.
2- Reducing the waiting time for health care services, as well as increasing patients’ satisfaction with health care services.
3- The specialized healthcare consultations provided by the healthcare system in Saudi Arabia increased within 4 weeks from 38% to 84%, in addition to another increase in the coverage percentage for the urban and rural communities which receive basic health care services from 78% in 2016 to 85.7% in 2020.
The healthcare transformation in Saudi Arabia is moving steadily towards achieving Vision 2030 goals, and SMASCO is committed to ensuring the Kingdom’s success by providing the qualified nurses needed in this pivotal sector. SMASCO also provides the healthcare industry in Saudi Arabia with skilled health technicians and registered nurses in order to meet the Kingdom’s urgent need for qualified health personnel.
For healthcare investors, SMASCO is the ideal partner. We provide healthcare professional manpower that meets the organization’s needs and accomplishes its mission. You can contact SMASCO to request its services. Here is where it begins.
- Healthcare, Vision 2030, my.gov.sa.
- Healthcare Transformation Strategy, moh.gov.sa.
- Health Sector Transformation Program, vision2030.gov.sa.
- Nursing salaries in Saudi Arabia, 30 July, 2023, almaal.org.
رواتب التمريض في السعودية، منصة صناع المال.
- Health and medical services in the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, 2023, alarabiya.net.
الخدمات الصحية والطبية في رؤية المملكة 2030، آراء سعودية، العربية.
- Saudi Arabia recruits 1,000 nurses from the Philippines, 22 May, 2019, ArabianBusiness.com
- Linking the Saudi Arabian 2030 vision with nursing transformation in Saudi Arabia: Roadmap for nursing policies and strategies, 2022, ScienceDirect.com
- Nursing Shortage, Lisa M. Haddad; Pavan, 13, February, 2023, National Library of Medicine