A severe shortage of competent doctors able and willing to take over the practices of aging physicians could result in the disappearance of basic pediatric care in many regions of Hungary, warned the president of the National Association of Pediatricians
in Monday’s edition of Magyar Nemzet.
The average age of pediatricians in Hungary is 59, and 46 percent of them are over 60, according to data cited by Póta. Of 1,498 pediatric practices in the country, a third of them are staffed by doctors between 50-60 years of age. Ten years from now, many of these doctors will be going into retirement and leaving many empty positions with no one to take them, Póta said, adding that of the 140 practicing pediatricians over the age of 70, “a mere 40 of them are in good health.” Póta warns “there is no one else who could take over their practices even though they no longer have the energy to train themselves, to learn new methods and keep up with the development of the science.”
Over 100 pediatric practices have closed their doors in the last 7-8 years, Póta said, forcing parents to take their children to more distant doctors in other towns, or to mixed practices where the physicians primarily care for adults and may not be competent in caring for children. Pediatricians study for five years to care specifically for children, while family doctors receive only four months of pediatric training, of which two months is theory and 6 weeks in practice. Póta believes this is not nearly enough for them to have adequate competence in caring for children.
Low wages are not the only reason that young people are not attracted to practicing pediatric medicine. In fact, wages for doctors have increased 25-30 percent in recent years, and many doctors now receive a net monthly salary of 200-300 thousand forint (USD 680-1,020). Rather, poor working conditions and administrative demands deters many doctors from practicing medicine in Hungary upon completion of their studies.