Major shortage of doctors – Italy wants to attract more doctors from abroad


The shortage of doctors is causing problems for Italy: Like Austria, our neighboring country Italy is desperate for doctors. Many prefer to go abroad or work in the private sector. Italy therefore now wants to attract more foreign doctors to the country.

It is estimated that there is a shortage of at least 20,000 doctors and 70,000 public health nurses. The reason lies in the current law, which imposes restrictions on the employment of medical personnel for economic reasons. In fact, spending on healthcare workers is at the same level as twenty years ago.

Employment is made easier for foreigners
To combat the chronic shortage of healthcare workers, Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s government wants to make it easier to hire doctors from abroad. The government plans to relax the criteria for using foreign doctors in public health care.

A decree passed in the wake of the 2020 coronavirus pandemic that made it easier to hire doctors from non-EU countries will also be extended beyond the 2025 deadline. In 2022, 500 doctors from Cuba were hired by the southern Italian region of Calabria to address staffing problems in the public health system there.

In the year 2019 before the pandemic, 21,000 foreign doctors worked in Italian healthcare, and this number increased to 28,000 in 2023. 87 percent of them come from non-EU countries. In addition, there are 23,000 foreign nurses working in Italy, of which 9,456 are from outside the EU. According to government plans, their numbers are expected to continue to increase in the coming years.

Situation in emergency departments critical
The medical association Anaao Assomed said public health care should become more attractive again to doctors and other health professionals. Many medical professionals would go abroad or work in the private sector after graduation. Many would leave healthcare at age 50. The causes are low wages, lack of staff and therefore heavier shifts. The situation is particularly critical in some medical areas, such as emergency medicine and emergency medicine.

Since 2005, ten percent of retired doctors have not been replaced. The number of young specialists who entered healthcare in the same period is not enough to replace all retired doctors. As a result, the public health system can no longer guarantee adequate services everywhere, experts complain.

Source: Krone


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