Portuguese doctors looking for well-paid careers are suddenly spoilt for choice.
Vying with Saudi Arabia – which has been offering ‘unbeatable salaries’ – European countries like Ireland have entered the race to grab national talents
Explains Diário de Notícias today, “there have never been so many countries vying to recruit Portuguese doctors” who by dint of training requirements here are known for their excellence.
Says Rui Nogueira, president of the association of national GPs, “on the one hand we’re delighted as it shows that the quality of Portuguese doctors is recognised, but on the other we’re concerned because we realise that Portugal simply cannot compete with the salaries offered in other countries”.
Even Spain (Galicia) offers double the monthly pay-packet that a junior doctor working here can expect, while Ireland tops that in spades, recruiting for A&E departments with salaries of more than €11,000 a month.
DN reporters stress they have tried to establish the terms of these Irish contracts, but ‘up till now’ haven’t heard back from the recruitment company.
Next week, Ireland and several other countries (the UK, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, France, Austria, Germany, Holland, Switzerland and Australia) will be taking part in recruitment ‘fairs’ in Lisbon and Porto focused on hiring doctors, nurses, dentists, radiologists and physiotherapists among other health professionals.
Says DN, the average monthly salary offered “could reach €9,000” (that’s roughly four times the salaries likely here).
And the situation will simply feed into the ‘perfect storm’ that has been brewing for decades: as doctors in Portugal retire, there simply aren’t equivalent professionals on hand to take their places.
DN gives an example. Every year in Portugal around 400 doctors complete their training. But last year alone exactly that number retired.
With the country’s newly-qualified doctors now being increasingly offered better pay and conditions to move abroade, the results will be only too clear.
Indeed, Rui Nogueira believes the ‘medical brain drain’ will simply gather momentum.
“From 2025, when most of the oldest GPs (practising now) will have retired, one in three doctors trained will not be working within the State health service. This is the challenge facing the system”, he explained. “A lot of money has been invested in training these professionals but there is a question of managing their expectations as well…”
Doctors’ association leader Miguel Guimarães puts it more bluntly. The situation shows the “failure in policies for hiring human resources” and highlights “the disinvestment in medical careers” that has already dissuaded so many health professionals from even considering the State health system.