Hungary struggles to stem flow of emigrating doctors

Already dogged by corruption, low wages and poor working conditions, Hungarian hospitals face another grave threat — an exodus of doctors.
The lure of working abroad for many young doctors in the former communist country is proving irresistible, especially during a period of economic unrest at home.
On average a junior doctor in Hungary takes home around 140,000 forints (420 euros, $555) per month — at least five times less than their colleagues in Britain, Germany or Scandinavia — all favoured destinations for Hungarian doctors, according to Emese Batizan, head of the Budapest branch of the A-Team Medical Recruitment agency.
“Hungarian doctors are sought after in the West due to their good clinical skills and strong work ethic,” she told AFP.
For a young Hungarian however, there is more than just money fuelling the decision to leave for many doctors.
“I work 60-90 hours a week, but the atmosphere is stimulating and open-minded and there are enormous opportunities for learning and development,” Daniel Gero, a 27-year-old Hungarian surgeon who left to work in a clinic in Lausanne, Switzerland, told AFP.
“There are always interesting cases to work on and we use the most modern treatments and practices here,” he said.
In contrast, back home the health service is chronically underfunded: spending per capita is around half the OECD average according to the organisation’s latest statistics.
The health service is also dogged by deeply embedded corruption: most patients pay doctors an agreed cash sum in an envelope — untaxed “gratitude money” for services rendered.
This hinders the training of younger doctors, said Istvan Eger, president of the Hungarian Doctors Association (MOK).
“An older doctor often won’t let a younger one carry out an operation as he would be missing out on money from patients,” he told AFP.
Young graduates hence face a difficult future if they stay in Hungary.

more: Globalpost

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