No, it is not a Latin American, African country. Not even one belonging to the vast territories that once belonged to USSR. No, it is this country. The country fled by thousands of doctors and nurses who seek jobs in civilised healthcare systems offering decent labour conditions and the salaries they deserve. It is the country where one is admitted to hospital healthy and discharged sick. Or, even worse, where one presents hospital seeking specialised treatment but die in a field wearing just their pyjamas or on the side of the road, left behind by the ambulance.
Almost every single month do we hear about some outrageous case. Be it a person who goes to hospital after being unwell and who is discharged to die at home, on the side of the road or, as in the recent Brasov case, in the field, or a patient who dies on a hospital bed where people are crowed, keeping clear of cockroaches praying that someone will attend to them, or people who received erroneous diagnoses or therapies out of indolence or overworking of the medical staff. The genocide of Romanians. Romanians who live a continuous paradox. They keep telling us there is money for ambulances, yet patients are carried to hospital in the booth of old rusty cars. They tell us we do have state of the art equipment, yet there are no specialists to operate them. The competition is high for the medical schools, yet the medical staff in hospitals is insufficient. We do have qualified doctors who love their country, but they no longer want to work here. Things have spun out of control.
And, whilst we are terrified by what happens right next to us and we are too numb to have a national reaction, every now and then some foreigner comes to awake us with a hard slap in the face. Something like that happened on Wednesday. During a conference organised by the Academy of Economic Studies in Bucharest, the ambassadors of France, Germany and Great Britain criticised the Romanian authorities’ lack of strategy in fighting what the French ambassador called ‘brain haemorrhage’. ‘The total number of Romanians currently based abroad is believed to be about 3 M. Considered against the population of my country of 60 million, three million Romanians mean ten million people in 25 years. You are bleeding. You are losing your people’, warned François Saint-Paul, Ambassador of France to Bucharest. Among those three millions there are also doctors. Doctors the Romanian state schooled for seven years, specialists in whom the state invested and from whom other millions of Romanians expect a cure. People who were refused the right to decent remuneration and who eventually left without looking back at a growingly ill, rotten and rusty country.
‘According to statistical data, 2,000 physicians quit Romania every year. This is the result when you invest in training doctors for seven years and then you pay them with just 400 euro’, Ambassador François Saint-Paul stressed.
A hard slap in the face of a sick system, yet a slap the results of which might not become visible too soon, as decent salaries in the healthcare system could only be achieved by miracle, given the fact that a nurse’s wage is now 1,200 lei, the wage of a resident doctor is about 1,500 lei and the wage of a specialist is about 2,500 lei. And Romanians no longer believe in miracles.