Doctor-drain threatens Croatia once an EU member


It is not widely known that Croatia joined the European Union on 1 July, 2013 the accession process will have taken 12 years and four months. Let’s look around in connection with the healthcare market of Croatia. Will well trained medical specialists leave the country as soon as they are admitted to  other national medical councils?

Croatia could lose between 700 and 1,000 doctors once the country becomes a member of the European Union, some estimates show.

Statistics warn that some 10 to 15 per cent of medical professionals leave the new member states once these enter the EU. Dr. Ivica Babic, the president of Croatian Doctors Union says that such predictions are not far from what could soon be Croatia’s reality.

“From what I have heard from talking to my colleagues, I think we can expect a drain of doctors beyond the quoted averages. I would not like to speak in concrete numbers as there has been no investigation yet, but it is clear that with Croatia’s entrance into the EU, a new labour market will open up and that will give the young people an opportunity to thus resolve the question of their future.”

“But it is not out of the question that older doctors will also leave,” Babic adds.

Babic adds that doctors from Eastern Europe often go to western states to do what the locals do not want to, such as cover the on-call shifts or provide replacement during vacations. Retired Croatian doctors could thus earn a little extra cash by going abroad.

The numbers of doctors that would leave becomes even more problematic when one considers the fact that Croatian hospitals are already understaffed. According to the Union’s estimates, Croatia needs another 2,500 to 3,000 health care professionals in order to cover the existing need. There are currently 2.7 doctors for every 1,000 citizens (12,000 in total), while the EU averages are 3.5 per 1,000.

The problem becomes even bigger when one realizes that the average age of a Croatian specialist is 55, the daily Slobodna Dalmacija writes.


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