Health system reform creates havoc

The Romanian medical system is faced with a severe shortage of staff. Equipment and necessary materials are also scarce. Dissatisfied with the chaotic state of the system, as a consequence of “illegal aspects in the legislation”, as well as the continued and unexplainable shrinkage of budgets allotted to their practices since 2009, even GPs are ready to take action. In their view, extreme situations call for extreme measures. They threaten they would go as far as leaving the country if the authorities do not take prompt action, a course of action also legitimated by the chair of the National Family Medicine Association (SNMF), Rodica Tanasescu. According to Mediafax, the GPs will address this topic this weekend (e.n. on Saturday), in a meeting between the employers, SNMF and the Romanian Physicians’ College. According to Rodica Tanasescu, one of the points on the agenda of Saturday’s meeting is the continued reduction of GP offices’ incomes, since 2009. Thus, if, in 2009, the budget allotted to GP offices was 35 per cent lower than in 2008, in 2010 figures dropped by almost 10 per cent, and another reduction, by 10 pc, is estimated for 2011. “Thinking we can work in such conditions is totally unrealistic,” she underlined.


Nevertheless, the authorities do not seem impressed by the protests staged in the past days by the staff of the hospitals included on the Ministry of Health’s dissolution/ merger list, nor by the growing exodus of doctors who choose to work abroad. Thus, only a day after protests at the Caritas Hospital, the mayor Sorin Oprescu replied, as follows, to the medical staff who had urged him to take action: the Caritas Hospital will be closed down on account of ‘poor performance’, and some of the buildings will be restored to the previous owner. The general mayor did not explain what he meant, exactly, by a poor performance of the Caritas staff. Approximately one hundred employees of the Cernavoda City Hospital protested, yesterday afternoon, in the hospital’s yard, against the Ministry of Health (MS)’s decision to turn the unit into a home for the elderly. The hospital’s manager, Dr. Andrei Andrei, stated that the ministry’s decision is unwarranted, especially as there are enough funds to keep the hospital running. Similar protests were held in Arges too.


While the authorities repeatedly invoke the healthcare system reform, many hospitals in Romania are operating with a shortage of staff and with very poor equipment. Thus, the media has already reported the case of an urologist in a hospital in Negresti who set, at the beginning of this month, a record in surgical practice – a torch-lit operation. What is worse, such examples abound. At the Timisoara County Hospital, the doctors complain they have to operate on wobbly tables, which have to be fastened with planks of wood, “Gandul” reports, while, in Iasi, the doctors were forced to use a scissors for high voltage cables, borrowed from the Romanian Railways company, for a forearm fracture. It is hardly surprising, then, that more and more Romanians seek treatment abroad. According to “Evenimentul Zilei”, Vienna has become the Romanian patient’s life buoy. The fact that the AHK hospital in Vienna is preferred not only by the common people, but also by Romanian politicians and media figures (Traian Basescu, Calin Popescu Tariceanu, Monica Iacob Ridzi, Teo Trandafir, to name just a few of the VIPs who visited it) speaks volumes about the Romanian healthcare system.

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