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Initiative seeks to halt country doctor drain

The Local · 3 Aug 2011, 17:44

Published: 03 Aug 2011 17:44 GMT+02:00

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Chancellor Angela Merkel's centre-right coalition said it would introduce tax breaks to boost the salaries of doctors setting up or taking over practices in rural areas.

Currently some 138,000 doctors practice in Germany, a ratio of 38 doctors for 100,000 inhabitants compared to only 30 doctors for 100,000 inhabitants in 1990. But doctors set up practices in wealthy, urban areas, avoiding the poorer, rural areas where they are likely to earn less money.

The bad distribution of practitioners is especially problematic in eastern Germany, in the northern state of Lower Saxony, and in southern Bavaria.

Officials estimate that with at least 1,000 jobs currently finding no takers and tens of thousands of doctors headed for retirement over the coming years, the problem will only get worse.

Already 50 percent of patients living in the countryside must go to town for medical treatment, Andreas Köhler, the chairman of the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians, told ARD television.

"The main problem ... is that most practitioners no longer want to be on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week" as is often the case in rural areas, Stefan Gress, professor for health economics at Fulda technical school, told ARD.

Story continues below…

And with a fast-ageing population, the number of Germans requiring regular care is expected to grow from 2.4 million today to 3.4 million in 2030 and four million in 2050.


The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

23:49 August 3, 2011 by pepsionice
Back around the late 1990s....over a two or three year period....there were around 5,000 German doctors who either retired or left the country. I watched a segment one night where a 65-year old doctor was trying to sell his doctor operation in a rural region in Bavaria. He offered up a first class building, had four nurses, and two receptionists who helped him run it. No one was interested in bidding on this. He eventually even tried to convince younger doctors just coming out of school, and they wouldn't touch the cheapen offer. They went on to discuss German doctors moving to the US & Canada....because of salary structure.

I'll predict within ten years that most Germans end up seeing a Physicians Assistant for most of their medical needs because there just won't be enough doctors in the country. Added to that....even the importation of foreign doctors from Russia and various 3rd world countries...isn't helping matters.
16:41 August 4, 2011 by Staticjumper
While living in Germany in 2006, I was talking to a young, female, German doctor who said she was excited about practicing her English with me because she and her boyfriend had both recently finished their medical residencies and were scheduled for a telephonic job interview with a hospital in Australia. While she felt guilty about leaving Germany, particularly because most of her education was paid for by German tax payers, she and her boyfriend couldn't even afford to buy a car on their combined salaries. Apparently, Australia and Canada both recognize German medical licenses for two years and they would be able to make far more money overseas and then decide whether or not to come home to Germany or to transfer their licenses and stay in Australia permanently. Sad but true, but until the German medical system can start offering competitive salaries, they will continue to lose doctors.
17:46 August 4, 2011 by toemag
Ah well, not all is bad, pass a few laws, and then get some Pakistani, Indian, insert further nationalities (here) and we'll be sorted....

Now the Medical insurance companies with all of their cuts are left holding "Stupid" sign.
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