In-depth
Doctors to be offered salary sweeteners to remain in public sector
  • | dtinews, Phap Luat TP. HCM | July 28, 2011 09:47 PM

Doctors are deserting public hospitals in droves, seeking better pay and conditions in the private sector, according to Head of the Health Examination and Treatment Department under the Ministry of Health Dr Luong Ngoc Khue.

Many hospitals face overload due to the shortage of both staff and equipment

A meeting in Ho Chi Minh City on July 27 discussed the impact of rising living costs and the effect it was having on medical staff and doctors.

At the meeting, Le Hong Phuoc from Tay Ninh Province’s General Hospital, said, “Many doctors have left for private medical sector because the hospital’s payment and social policies are unattractive. If the situation still continues, lots of public hospitals will face a serious shortage of doctors in the coming years.”

Doctor Nguyen Huu Quang, Director of Binh Thuan Province’s General Hospital, was cited by Phap Luat TP. HCM (HCM City Law) newspaper as saying that the average age of doctors at his hospital is 46. If by 2020, the hospital does not receive new staff, it would face a dire shortage of doctors.

He referred to an incident where a doctor was sent on an intensive training course, but after completing the course, left to work for a private hospital with salary of VND25 million (USD1,213).

“Personnel shortages are putting a heavy burden on the around-the-clock work of the hospital. In some wards, a doctor has to work 24 hour shifts,” he said.

Tran Quang Hien from An Giang Province’s Health Department said many local doctors had either joined the private sector or moved to Ho Chi Minh City, noting that, “Currently, only 76% of local communes’ health stations have doctors, compared to 90% previously.”

Delegates at the meeting agreed that banning doctors from working for private medical centres would violate the Labour Law and the Law on Medical Examination and Treatment. However, to retain them at public hospitals, salary rises and other benefits, including over-time pay would need to be considered.

According to Dr. Khue, Vietnam has an increasing population, with around 1.5 million new children born annually; meanwhile, the number of sick-beds remains limited. The lack of doctors and medical equipment are the main causes of an overloaded health sector.

He noted that, to encourage doctors to remain at public hospitals, the Government had agreed to raise pay for medical staff on duty shifts by 250% over the current level, which will take effect from August 19.

Pham Van Tac, Head of the Ministry of Health’s Department of Organisation and Personnel, said the ministry would request that the Government increase initial salaries for doctors by 1.5 times compared to other sectors and offer over-time pay.

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