Viet Nam News
HỘI AN — The central province of Quảng Nam is struggling to recruit doctors for public hospitals and clinics because of low pay and tough working conditions.
At the General Hospital in the tourist hotspot of Hội An City, there are not enough doctors to serve local patients, with only six being hired under a three-year (2013-2015) provincial programme.
Nguyễn Văn Dũng, Chairman of the Hội An People’s Committee, told Việt Nam News that the city needs to hire another 10 doctors.
“The city hospital – a major health centre for local residents – has a total of 22 doctors, but only 16 are on duty for daily health examinations,” Dũng said.
He said the city plans to have doctors and nurses from local heath centres work at the hospital to use the overload on existing staff.
Hospital director Đinh Thị Thu Hương said only a third of its doctors had to provide medical examination to 400 patients each day.
“Three doctors have to cover administrative tasks, while one has been assigned to working on Chàm Island. Five doctors are in charge at pediatrics and obstetrics wards and others have to take time off after night duty,” Hương said.
“The hospital has had to employ retired doctors or urge doctors not to take days off,” she said.
Hương said many doctors have reached retirement age, and several prefer to work at private hospitals or heath centres for better payment.
She said an experienced doctor can earn VNĐ40 million (US$1,800) a month at a private hospital, while they were paid just VNĐ5.4 million ($238) at a State-owned hospital.
She complained that young doctors received just VNĐ2 million ($88.5) – even lower that old nurses, and the salary policy did not encourage young doctors to work at a hospital for long time.
The director also said some doctors left the hospital for private employment two or three years after they were funded to attend short-term training courses.
Hương said a doctor working at the State-run hospital only got VNĐ50,000 ($2.2) for a night duty, while they could earn nine times as much at a private hospital.
In the mountainous Nam Trà My District, there are 17 doctors on the rolls, but just four serve at 10 health centres.
Director of the district’s health centre, Trần Văn Thu, said most doctors in the district were from ethnic minority communities with limited knowledge and skills.
He said it was risky to transport patients who needed emergency care to the provincial hospital around 100km away.
Another mountainous district, Phước Sơn, has 33 doctors covering 12 rural communes with poor traffic, medicines and equipment.
Tam Kỳ City’s North Quảng Nam general hospital also needs to employ 50 doctors to provide healthcare services to 700 patients who come for health examinations each day, apart from 1,000 inpatients.
Nguyễn Văn Hai, director of the provincial health department, said Quảng Nam had allocated a budget of VNĐ105 billion ($4.6 million) for the 2013-2015 period to hire 135 doctors to work at health centres and hospitals across the province.
“The province offered them (doctors) from VNĐ200 million ($8,800) to VNĐ500 million ($22,000) (per year) each to get them to work in the province, and an additional VNĐ100 million ($4,400) for accommodation,” Hai said.
The province currently has 947 doctors, 891 of whom work at State-run hospitals, for a ratio of 6.3 per 10,000 people.
However, 95 per cent of doctors preferred to work at hospitals and heath centres in cites and districts, and only five per cent agreed to work in rural and mountainous areas.
Hai said the province also planed to employ 500 doctors with similar preferential policies over the next five years (2017-2021) to try and make up the human resource shortage in the health sector.
As planned, the province will have more than 1,300 doctors by 2020, and a lot of money is needed to hire them, he added. — VNS