Ombudsman: There is a great lack of family doctors in Romania

While Szeklerland is in pretty good shape in terms of the number of patients per family doctor, in 212 Romanian municipalities, no family doctor services are even available, an Ombudsman report reveals, based on data from the Ministry of Health. According to the document, despite there being a National Healthcare Strategy in place, it does not work in practice: public health services do not work in rural areas, and many people have difficulty accessing even basic services, Hungarian news portal maszol.ro reports.

Deputy Ombudsman Ecaterina Mirea said that there is a large gap between the legislation and reality, and the cooperation between the competent authorities leaves much to be desired. This unsatisfactory situation has serious consequences: At the end of 2019, 665 family doctor positions were vacant, and no GPs were available in 212 municipalities; out of these, 83 are located in Transylvania. The greatest lack of family doctors was registered in Szilágy (Sălaj) County in Transylvania, where residents in 16 settlements have no access to basic medical services. Krassó-Szörény (Caraș-Severin) comes next with 14 municipalities without any GP, followed by 13 settlements in Fehér (Alba) County with no family doctor, 12 settlements in Hunyad (Hunedoara) County, and 10 settlements in Buzău County.

The counties with Hungarian populations are in relatively good shape in this regard: In Hargita (Harghita), Bihar (Bihor) and Szatmár (Satu Mare), there is only one municipality per county without basic medical services; Kovászna (Covasna), Maros (Mureș) and Kolozs (Cluj) counties have four settlements lacking a GP, while Brassó (Brașov) has five settlements without any family doctor. Meanwhile, there are only four counties in Moldovia and the southern part of the country where basic medical services are accessible in every settlement: Dolj, Gorj, Călărași and Ilfov.

Szilágy County also ranks last for the number of patients per family doctor, with only one medic for 4,774 residents. According to maszol.ro, this number is outstanding, as there is no other county where the number of patients per doctor even reaches 3,000. This situation is due to the fact that there are 61 administrative units in Szilágy County but only 45 family doctor practices — it is the only county in Romania with fewer family doctor offices than municipalities. In Transylvania, only Máramaros (Maramureș) and Beszterce-Naszód counties have a relatively high patient number per family doctor: 2,206 in Máramaros and 2,030 in Beszterce-Naszód.

In comparison, Hargita County has 151 family doctor offices in 67 municipalities, and on average, a doctor has 1,873 patients; in Kovászna County, there are 98 family doctor offices in 45 municipalities and 1,709 patients per GP. In Maros County, a family doctor has 1,649 patients; Szatmár, 1,991; Bihar, 1,347; Kolozs, 1,819; Brassó, 1,749; and Arad, 1,637, maszol.ro reports.

On a national level, the family doctors working in Szeben (Sibiu) County are the least overwhelmed, treating 1,183 patients on average.

Title image: According to maszol.ro, the report concludes that the state should encourage doctors to practice in isolated rural areas by providing them with high wages. Photo: totuldespremame.ro

Author: Orsi Sarány