New generation of doctors needed in Harghita County

In five years, roughly 40 percent of the 151 general practitioners in Hargita/Harghita County will reach retirement age, and without a new generation to take over this essential role in the healthcare system, the situation could become catastrophic. Unfortunately, for the young generation, being a general practitioner is not appealing, and the University of Medicine, Pharmacy, Science and Technology (renamed after Emil Palade) in Marosvásárhely/Târgu Mureș delivers only a few graduates each year with this specialization.

“Over the next five years, about 50 colleagues will reach retirement age or just move out of the system. This will cause disruption, as there will be areas without a general practitioner. Even now, we have a colleague who has more than 7,000–8,000 patients because he’s the only practitioner in the area,” general practitioner and President of the Harghita County Medical College László Biró told Hungarian newspaper Székelyhon in an interview. He foresees a similar situation in the next few years in the Udvarhelyszék/Odorheiu Secuiesc, Csíkszék/Miercurea-Ciuc and Gyergyószék/Gheorgheni areas.

During the past few years, the government has increased wages in the healthcare system. However, it has left general practitioners out of the pay rise, so being a general practitioner is not that appealing financially. (The income of a practitioner is influenced by the number of patients he or she has.)

Another major issue is that the new generation of GPs is missing: The University of Medicine, Pharmacy, Science and Technology in Marosvásárhely should have 40-50 general practitioner students finishing each year to fill the gap, but it delivers only five professionals per year, which is only a fraction of what’s needed.

Over the next five years, general practitioners in 13 settlements will retire, which means that without a new generation to step in, more than 35,000 people will be left without medical care. That means, people from those settlements will be left out in the wild, without the ability to receive medical care when needed.

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Author: István Fekete