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Original Article

The Temporary Contracting and Visiting Doctors Program in the Saudi Ministry of Health: Development, Reform and Outputs

Faisal S. Alenezi, Aeshah I. Alsagheir, Lamya M. Alzubaidi, Saleh S. Alharbi, Wijdan S. Al-Saedi, Muna H. Hassanein, Tareef Y. Alaama.


Background: Temporary Contracting and Visiting Doctors’ Program was initiated by the Saudi Ministry of Health to address issues of sustainable supply of healthcare professionals in the whole country and in remote areas in particular. Objective: This study aimed to describe the experience of the Saudi Temporary Contracting and Visiting Doctors’ Program, the undertaken reform steps and the program outputs. Methods: We conducted a case study and reviewed documents of the Temporary Contracting and Visiting Doctors’ Program to obtain data about the program’s development and steps of reform. We also extracted data about the number of different types of temporary contracts, the program budget and the healthcare professionals registered on the “VISITORs” platform. Results: Scope of the Temporary Contracting and Visiting Doctors’ Program had widened from contracting physicians from outside Saudi Arabia to include healthcare professionals from inside the country. The program’s reform efforts included: formation of a governing central committee, development of guidelines, adoption of decentralized implementation system and modified budget release system, development of electronic staff bank and e-recruitment system and the introduction of virtual healthcare under the scope of the program. During the program evolution the number of temporary contracts has increased steadily, specifically the more efficient part-time contract variety, the contracts with physicians with rare sub-specialties, and contracts with Saudi healthcare professionals. Conclusion: Reform undertaken in the Saudi Temporary Contracting and Visiting Doctors’ Program ensures needs-based recruitment, efficient use of resources, and supply of staff of verified quality

Key words: Healthcare professionals, temporary contract, staff shortage.

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