As recruitment ramps up, still no opening date for delayed Sidra

Images courtesy of Sidra

Recruitment for the much-delayed Sidra Medical and Research Center is now in full swing, but the hospital’s management is still unwilling to commit to a firm opening date for the facility.

The development, billed as “an ultramodern academic medical center” dedicated to the care of women and children, was originally slated to open in 2011, and then postponed until the end of 2012.

Last year, however, hospital spokesman Khalid Al Mohannadi told Doha News that the management team was aiming to have Sidra fully operational by 2015.

However, this week, the hospital responded to a request for an update on the project by saying things are still fluid, due to uncertainty over when work on the building will be completed. In a statement, Sidra said:

“Sidra’s opening date depends largely on building handover and the completion of construction. Patients’ outcomes are the highest priority, and rigorous processes are underway to ensure that Sidra operates to the highest standards and opens only when the building is ready for safe patient care.”

Notably, however, several job advertisements on Sidra’s website continue to state that the center is still aiming to be open “in early 2015.”

Recruitment drive

Despite the uncertainty over its opening, Sidra is currently in the middle of a huge recruitment drive. Recruitment literature states that the hospital is aiming to increase its current administrative staff of 450 people to some 5,000 employees when it opens.

The hospital says it is “committed to recruiting talented and passionate staff who can deliver the best possible care to patients,” and as such it has set a high bar in hiring nurses, doctors and team leaders from centers of excellence around the world.

According to Sidra’s recruitment pages, the hospital is seeking very specific candidates. Advertisements for nurses, for example, call for experience from “an Academic Medical Center” in North America, the UK, Ireland, Western Europe, South Africa, Australia or New Zealand.

Similarly, adverts for doctors show a preference for qualifications from the US, Canada or Europe, although they also state that qualifications from other countries may be deemed acceptable.

When asked about the requirements, a spokeswoman from Sidra told Doha News that “anyone who meets the job-specific recommendations is welcome to apply, and is reviewed.”

In order to tempt qualified Western doctors and nurses, Sidra is promising a comprehensive employment package.

Schooling concerns

According to the job advertisements, Sidra is recruiting both single and married nurses, and is prepared to sponsor and house their families and pay their children’s school fees.

However, discussions among applicants on a popular expat forum suggest that there is confusion and considerable concern about the center’s promise to “assist with school placements.”

The current shortage of school places in Doha’s private schools, coupled with the recent introduction of rules banning new entrants after January each year, are leading some job seekers to doubt their prospective employer’s reassurances.

One British midwife who was recently interviewed for a role at Sidra told Doha News that she will not accept an offer to begin a role at the hospital early next year unless her two children have firm school places.

This is a considerable challenge in Doha, where popular schools generally only assess and admit new pupils to waiting lists every spring for entrance in the following September.

In response to these concerns, Sidra told Doha News that “all Sidra employees have school spaces for their children.” A spokeswoman continued:

“Plans are in place to ensure that we have the necessary school spaces allocated to meet the needs of employees joining us. We have agreements in place with high quality schools around Doha and are in regular talks with other schools to meet future needs.”

The center has confirmed that it has some reserved spaces for employees’ children at Qatar Academy Sidra (although not, as some applicants believe, all places in this school), as well as relationships with “several other schools in Doha,” although it has declined to specify which these are.

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