UK medical agency buys into SA


12 September 2006

Born in Zimbabwe and educated in Johannesburg, British entrepreneur Penny Streeter OBE (Order of the British Empire), MD of UK medical staffing agency Ambition 24hours, has announced the takeover of Nursing Services of South Africa – the second largest provider of temporary nurses in the country, supplying over 3 000 personnel each month.

In October 2004, Ambition 24hours launched a R150-million, three-year investment plan to develop a new South African operation.

According to Ambition 24hours’ SA website, the company has opened a dedicated office in Bellville, Cape Town where it is “fast approaching its target of employing 1 000 sales and administrative personnel,” and plans to launch a nationwide chain of branches by the close of 2006.

The company’s acquisition of Nursing Services of SA – for an undisclosed price – follows the purchase earlier this year of Synergy, a locum doctor agency in Cape Town.

The company now provides locum doctors, nurses, allied health professionals, care givers and medical administrative staff throughout South Africa “and is actively recruiting qualified nationals to return from the UK, to help ease national staffing shortages in the sector”.

In a statement issued in June, Streeter said a number of senior public health administrators had “asked if we can help meet the pressing need in the South African health sector for experienced staff, just as we have done in the UK.

“Ambition 24hours will be recruiting doctors and nurses both here and in the UK, where we have a databank of some 13 500 UK personnel. Many of these are South Africans and are keen to return home, from the flood of requests I have received.”

Streeter added that Ambition 24hours had never recruited South African nurses or doctors to work in the UK. “All our South African staff arrived there through voluntary relocation and other recruitment sources,” she said.

Born in Zimbabwe and educated at Alberton High School in Johannesburg, Streeter left South Africa for the UK in the mid-1980s. She set up Ambition 24hours in south London in 1996, achieving R5.7-million of business in the first 12 months of trading.

In 2002 her company was number one in the London Sunday Times Fast Track 100 of fastest growing companies. By 2004 revenue had reached R713-million from the recruitment and management of 13 500 temporary healthcare, teaching and social services personnel – all achieved without outside investors or loans.

The former Confederation of British Industry Entrepreneur of the Year was awarded the OBE in the 2006 British New Years Honours list for “services to enterprise”. reporter

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