Local hospitals face doctor shortage
Resignations by rural physicians protesting a cut in their hardship allowance will see the workload of remaining personal increase to the extent that they too might eventually quit their rural hospitals, the Rural Doctor Society warned on Thursday.
- Published: 4/04/2013 at 06:14 PM
- Newspaper section: breakingnews
Community hospitals face being hit the hardest because doctors will be tempted to transfer to provincial hospitals where they sacrifice the minimal hardship allowance for an easier workload, according to Wattana Parisri, director of Somdej Phraupharajthabo Hospital and a member of the society.
Research by the National Health Security Office last year revealed there were 3,425 rural doctors stationed at community hospitals and 8,737 stationed at provincial hospitals.
The survey showed doctors in community hospitals averaged 48 patients each month while doctors in provincial hospitals took care of 26 patients monthly.
Mr Wattana emphasised that being short of just one doctor at the moment had yet to cause major problems for community hospitals, but the longer the government's policy to cut the hardship allowance is enforced, the more doctors will abandon the rural health system.
When they graduate, doctors are required to fulfil some years of commitment to rural hospitals to pay for their government education funding, he said.
Mr Wattana said new graduates, however, were just as likely to leave because of the workload and the desire to get better opportunities in more advanced hospitals.
A total of 146 doctors resigned in February and March. The Rural Doctor Society claimed that they were motivated to quit because of the Ministry of Public Health’s new policy on hardship allowances.
The original hardship allowance was based on each doctor's degree of isolation and working conditions. But since Monday, it has been replaced with a performance-related pay system.
Under the scheme many doctors will have their hardship allowances cut by half, with the rest paid according to their performance.
About the author
- Writer: Paritta Wangkiat
- Position: Reporter