150 rural doctors quit 'for good'

150 rural doctors quit 'for good'

Almost 150 doctors have resigned from rural hospitals in response to the removal of hardship allowances in a government reform effort, the former head of the Rural Doctors Society said on Tuesday.

Arak Wongworachart said 146 doctors resigned in February and March combined.

Most of those who left were recipients of government grants and had yet to complete their years of commitment to rural hospitals, Dr Arak said.

"The resignations came within two months of the new policy being announced. This is a serious problem," he said.

Before the introduction of the hardship allowance in 2008, more than 600 rural doctors were resigning every year from community hospitals. That figure halved after the launch of the incentive scheme.

The original hardship allowance was based on each doctor's degree of isolation and working conditions. But as of Monday, it was 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.

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