Romania is struggling with a shortage of doctors and nurses migrating West to work. Now the European Commission and Romanian Government are trying to solve the problem by building new hospitals and improving living conditions.
By Simone West and Rebecca Birch
Between 2009-2015, Romania lost 50% of its doctors, according to an article from Romania-insider. POLITICO also published that 10% of the population reported that they did not have access to appropriate healthcare.
The doctors and nurses migrate to Western Europe, because they can get higher salaries and better living conditions there, than in Romania.
The European Commission and the Romanian government are ready to take action in order to prevent this brain drain and have announced that they will develop three new regional hospital projects in Romania, including one large university hospital in Bucharest with an estimated start date in 2020.
Emilian Pavel is part of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament. He is also a Member of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs and believes that this incentive will make some of the doctors return.
Lack of digitalisation
Darius Onete is a student from Romania. He currently studies in Aarhus, Denmark. He believes that a lot of the problem lies in the administration, and the lack of digitalisation.
“Not much of the papers are digital,” he says and further explains.
“If a paper has to go from one doctor to another, the process will take time,”
This can create frustration for the patients, but also for the doctors that just want to provide the best care for their patient.
After that, another issues comes up: The long waiting times to see a doctor.
‘’If you need treatment, you have to wait,’’ Onete says.
He has only experienced very few times where he did not have to wait less than one hour.
Higher wages and new medical equipment should make doctors return
Romania have recently taken measures to ensure the return of their doctors, such as implementing a pay rise.
Oszkar Bondar is in his fifth year of studying general medicine in Romania. He believes the recent salary increase was implemented to stop students and physicians leaving the country, but that the Romanian government seemed to forget something.
“The main reasons they resort to leaving the country is that not being able to safely do what you love, with people that you enjoy working with, is one of the biggest issues,” he says and adds,
‘’having better equipped hospitals is equal, or in some cases, even more important than money,”
The recent salary increase has helped, but another factor that is bringing them back is the improvement of their workplaces, such as new medical equipment.
An EU Problem
Member of the European Parliament, Emilian Pavel, believes that a main reason for the exodus is related to the living conditions, yet he believes Romania is evolving.
Referring to Romania’s “noise”, he explains how the problem lies in the lack of infrastructure and the difficulty young families face in order to get proper access to childcare or nurseries.
‘’The combination of the lack of infrastructure, bureaucracy and some services that are required by the young families that were as good as in the west, were the main reason that doctors left,’’ he believes.
The solution is more complex to solve. Pavel says that the proper solution is a mix of different incentives.
“It’s never one unique solution. On one part, [it is] investment in life quality, On the other side, work conditions and salaries. It’s a mix that makes your life easier and as close as possible to what you would love it to be.”
A new hope for a more modern society
Romania is already implementing some of the solutions.
Pavel says they are starting to have higher wages that are competitive to what a doctor in Western Europe can get.
There are more European projects on the horizon, that will not only improve doctors workplaces, but will also provide new machinery and state of the art medical equipment.
“Things will not become worse than it is now, because of the new measures that have commenced. These are really promising projects’’ he says.
But there is a but. The new projects will not work, if they don’t manage to solve the problem with the doctor gap.
‘’If we don’t fill up the gaps, there will be a shortage in those countries where usually the gaps were filled by central eastern European doctors. I think the key is to encourage people to go towards studying medicine ”
Pavel believes that mobility is one of the main, most important things gained because of the European Union and that migration is the key to societal fruition.
A Bright Future
Pavel is optimistic about the future of medicine in Romania.
‘“It’s in our responsibility to give them reasons to stay first of all, give them reasons to come back, and when they do, they come back with international experience and knowledge, that Romania can take advantage of.’’