Human capital and relationships
Human capital is of core importance in all of Life
Healthcare’s operations and is the foundation of our
success. Life Healthcare recognises that the growing
shortage of critical skills globally, particularly in the
healthcare industry, makes retention and motivation of
employees a priority.
We aim to achieve an ‘employer of choice’ status, striving
to attract and retain calibre people who share a common
vision and embrace our values and goals. To support our
employees, Life Healthcare provides a range of benefits
that focus on recognition and reward.
In line with business requirements, we empower our
employees to develop as leaders and professionals as
part of the Life Healthcare team, while ensuring that their
contribution to the Group is encouraged and recognised.
Life Healthcare complies in all material respects with
the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, the Labour
Relations Act, the Employment Equity Act and the Skills
Development Act, and is committed to achieving various
employee related transformation targets.
The group employs 13 526 permanent staff as well as
498 sessional staff – see table below:
||Year ended 30 September
||Healthcare services employees
Life H ealthcare is committed to sustainable transformation
and aligns itself with the Codes of Practice under section 9(1)
of the Broad-Based Black Economic Employment Act (Act
52 of 2003). Transformation and exercising sound corporate
responsibility are fundamental to our business ethos and
promote an equitable and non-discriminatory culture within
Progress in each hospital or business unit is monitored
against measurable targets. Our staff profile reflects
our transformation drive, with 11 500 female personnel
and 8 200 black personnel. Our progress is reviewed
at monthly executive management meetings and
this ensures that employment equity, legislative
compliance and numerical target levels are set
on a national basis in consultation with executive
management, the employment equity steering
committee, and consultative forums.
Management and employment equity
BEE participation at group level is a strategic priority.
Prior to the IPO, which preceded our group’s listing on
the JSE, our BEE equity ownership in Life Healthcare
stood at 42.67%, making it a truly black owned South
African company. With the subsequent change in
shareholder mix, there has been a dilution of direct BEE shareholding but it has remained above 25%.
Employee and management equity ownership in Life
Healthcare has been channelled through various trusts.
Prior to listing management held 9.19% and post the
listing event this shareholding has reduced to 6.50%.
Equity ownership has been an important component of
our staff retention strategy and we are currently reviewing
options in terms of a new employee equity structure.
Life Healthcare espouses equal opportunity and fair
treatment and strives for an employee composition that
reflects the demographics of South Africa. The group
has good BEE credentials and a solid track record of
attracting and advancing historically disadvantaged
individuals (HDIs). Driven by our transformation strategy,
Life Healthcare exceeded its BEE targets for the year.
HDIs in the group accounted for 61% of employees.
Our BEE approach recognises ownership, management
and employment equity, skills development, enterprise
development, preferential procurement and corporate
social investment. We have made good progress in
achieving our objectives. Recently new appointments to
the executive management team have included Dr Nilesh
Patel, Dr Keith Shongwe, Dr Sharon Vasuthevan, and
Employee empowerment and skills development
Life Healthcare strives to be a learning organisation
that makes a considerable investment in training
and development to create skilled and motivated
employees who will deliver quality service. The executive
management team conducts monthly reviews of the
training plans within the business, and further education
leads to opportunities for career progression.
The Life College of Learning offers programmes in
management development, hospital management, health
sciences and life skills, as well as ongoing professional
training of nurses. The college had another year of
excellent results in the registered examinations, reflecting
the professionalism of our clinical educators. Our training
and personal development initiatives for staff at all levels
are designed to develop the wealth of talent within the
Through the college, 24 133 workplace skills training
events took place with another 15 560 training
interventions planned for 2011. All new nursing
employees are inducted in a process which includes
competency based training. New courses were
developed in health sciences, incorporating occupational
therapy assistant and occupational therapy technician
modules, as well as an operating theatre technician
To realise Life Healthcare’s vision of quality healthcare,
it is imperative that competent nurses are continually at our patients’ bedside, nursing and supervising clinical
care. During the past two years, a project was introduced
to increase performance levels and competencies.
Led by a team representing nursing, pharmacy, patient
services and human resources departments, some 500
senior nurses have attended regional training workshops.
The project included a focus on reviewing nursing
processes affecting clinical outcomes, restructuring
nursing roles, and implementing a competence
Several public sector nurses and previously
disadvantaged individuals have enrolled at the Life
College of Learning. Close ties are maintained with the
HWSETA and our group is currently providing 86 nursing
learnerships including skills development and basic
training to people from previously disadvantaged
During the year the Life School of Health Sciences, which
is part of the college, liaised with key stakeholders in
developing the qualifications for operating theatre and
institutional care workers, and the draft qualifications
have been submitted to the South African Qualifications
Authority. Twelve operating theatre technicians qualified
in 2010. They are a new cadre of healthcare workers who
assist nurses in the operating theatre.
The Life School of Management, also forming part of
the college, achieved accreditation with the UK based
Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) to offer the
Front Line Management Certificate, and 117 delegates
graduated during the year. Sixteen trainee managers
completed the group’s first hospital management
As 2010 was the International Year of the Nurse, Life
Healthcare initiated and implemented the My Nursing 100
campaign. This campaign was subsequently adopted
by the NEA and the Forum for University Deans in South
Africa (FUNDISA ). It became a South African initiative and,
on 12 May 2010, nurses and others involved in healthcare
celebrated their profession by spending 100 minutes in
patient care in any healthcare environment. The campaign
embraced nurses currently in practice, retired nurses,
healthcare administrators and managers as well as
community members. It presented an opportunity to support
nursing related activities and to emphasise the care,
commitment and compassionate aspects of the profession.
Training of pharmacy professionals
Life Pharmacy Management Services (LPMS) is
dedicated to the development and training of pharmacy
professionals and has partnered with eight South
African universities to offer a comprehensive and guided
pharmacist intern programme.
In 2010, our hospitals trained 13 pharmacist interns, as
well as 13 basic level and 39 post basic level pharmacist
assistants, with more than 80 percent of these candidates
being from designated groups. This is a threefold
increase in students from 2009.
The LPMS pharmacy in-touch programme communicates
with, and offers support to, qualified pharmacist interns
during their community service year. As a result many
qualified pharmacist interns are interested in joining
our Group’s hospital pharmacies in 2011. Furthermore
LPMS offers bursaries to five pharmacy students through
HWSETA . Three of these students will be doing their
internship with LPMS in 2011.
LPMS is actively involved in the South African Association
of Hospital & Institutional Pharmacists (SAAHIP). In
September our pharmacists held events throughout
pharmacy week promoting the profession and their role
in the community.
Life Healthcare’s infrastructure provides for employee
commitment through fair representation in the workplace,
structured succession planning, and competitive
remuneration and compensation benefits. The Group
offers a choice of medical aid cover, including a basic
option for lower income staff, while a generous subsidy
is offered to employees who are members of a medical
aid supported by the Group. Life Healthcare introduced
a life stage investment model which has assisted in the
appropriate management of benefits for employees
A wellness programme that encourages and assists
employees to take responsibility for their own physical,
mental and financial well-being, and also extends to
family members, has been enthusiastically embraced. We
have contracted with an external service provider, ICAS,
to provide a confidential support and information service
to which employees and their family members have
access. The service includes trauma debriefing, family
and personal counselling, advice on legal and financial
management, and substance abuse support. The
programme is measured quarterly and is well utilised.
The Group has engaged the services of an external
service provider to assist certain employees with the
judicial management of their indebtedness. Response
to this support has been positive.
Recognising the importance of education, Life Healthcare
also provided for 110 staff bursaries and 103 bursaries
for employees’ children to study for a tertiary qualification.
On merit, managers may be offered education at master’s
Healthcare professionals’ recruitment and
The ability to recruit and retain staff of a high calibre is
a critical success factor in our competitive healthcare
industry and is vital to the provision of quality care. The
global shortage of medical professionals has been well
documented and the chronic shortage of skilled workers
in South Africa is of national concern.
Life Healthcare currently sponsors a fellowship for
gastroenterology at the Pretoria Academic Hospital, and
is sponsoring trainee cardiologists at both the University
of the Witwatersrand and University of Cape Town.
Life Healthcare depends on doctors and other healthcare
professionals to provide clinical services, as patients can
only be admitted to our hospitals on the instruction of an
admitting doctor. The reputation, expertise and demeanour
of the doctors and other healthcare professionals who
provide clinical services in our hospitals are therefore
instrumental in the Group’s ability to attract patients.
The doctors who are affiliated with, and use Life
Healthcare’s facilities, are not employed by the Group.
Exceptions to this are the 120 doctors in our rehabilitation
units and hospitals or clinics in the healthcare services
division, whom we employ under special dispensation
from the Health Professions Council of South Africa
Nevertheless, Life Healthcare enjoys a strong symbiotic
relationship with the doctors practising at our facilities.
Our doctors benefit from our high quality infrastructure
of personnel, facilities, technology and equipment. In
addition our excellent relationships with medical schemes
(including preferred network agreements), provide a
constant flow of patients. Investment opportunities are
offered that allow doctors at certain hospitals to own
equity in Life Healthcare and/or the hospitals where
Doctors have a strong consultative role in the operation
of our hospitals, participating in the medical advisory
committees and/or hospital boards. During the past
financial year Life Healthcare has experienced a low
rate of turnover of doctors practising at our facilities.
Nurses and pharmacists
Life Healthcare is committed to ensuring continuity of high
quality nursing and pharmacy care through the adoption
and implementation of innovative strategies to recruit, train,
develop and retain our nurses and pharmacists. In excess
of 15% of our total workforce is now involved in training and
education initiatives through the Life College of Learning
and universities. We have stepped up our recruitment of
specialised and experienced nursing and pharmaceutical
professionals in particular, and for the past two years we
have recruited nurses from India to augment our nursing
Life Healthcare maintains competitive remuneration
policies, monitored to respond to the developments in
the market and providing increased pay for personnel
in certain positions where the group faces shortages.
We have also developed a pipeline of critical nursing
skills for our hospitals through the Life College of
One successful retention tool used over the past five
years is the Life Healthcare employees trust which was
financed through a special purpose vehicle by the
Industrial Development Corporation (IDC). The trust has enabled employees to participate in the group’s financial
growth and ensured that people identified strongly with
the success of Life Healthcare. Eligible beneficiaries of
the trust are fulltime South African employees who are
also members of a Life Healthcare retirement fund and
had to be in the Group’s employ on the date of listing. In
June 2010 (on the listing of Life Healthcare), 70% of the
trust was paid out and the balance will be distributed in
December 2010 as a dividend to the beneficiaries, after
which the trust will be deregistered.
Employee engagement and labour relations
Life Healthcare is committed to creating and
maintaining sound labour relations. Formal and informal
communication channels are used to shape behaviour
and share information. Regular evaluation of our
policies and procedures ensures fair treatment and a
safe work environment. An employee climate survey is
conducted every second year. This year’s results have
been interpreted and strategies devised to address and
mitigate areas that need attention and improvement.
Life Healthcare takes pride in the cultural diversity of its
people, and employee differences are appreciated. As
set out in our code of conduct, we encourage tolerance
and sensitivity to other cultures and are committed
to maintaining a work place free from discrimination,
where employees are selected on merit and an ability
HIV/Aids remains one of South Africa’s most pressing
challenges. Life Healthcare’s HIV/Aids policy has recently
been revised to align with the latest developments
in communicable diseases, and is based on sound
business principles as well as the obligations associated
with our social responsibility as an employer.
Through the Life College of Learning’s training and
ongoing peer education, our employees are encouraged
to know their health status. The Life Healthcare HIV/Aids
programme dictates absolute confidentiality, compassion
and fairness including non-discrimination on the
grounds of illness. The focus is on awareness, lifestyle
education and the prevention of infection and re-infection.
Employees are offered voluntary counselling and testing,
monitoring, care and continuous support as well as
access to appropriate treatment for those on medical aid.
All employees undergo HIV/Aids awareness training as
part of their induction into the Group.