Archive for August 19th, 2011


Ukraine needs 47,000 doctors – A “No sh*t Sherlock!” moment.

August 19, 2011

Now I am not sure whether Ukrainians should be grateful that the government has bothered to count the amount of vacancies for doctors in Ukraine or not.  It is at least a step in the right direction.  They have identified a problem and they have quantified it.

They have had a “No sh*t Sherlock!” moment at the Ministry of Health when identifying why (or at least partly why) there are so many vacancies.  To be exact  ” Low wages, lowered prestige of medical profession were named main causes of staff shortages in hospitals during the Health Ministry board’s meeting.”

Low wages more than any other reason one has to suspect.  (No different from any other State paid employee on the coal face to be fair).

Ukraine is not the only nation to have such skill shortages of course, it reminds me somewhat of the skills shortage the UK had (and probably still has) relating to doctors and dentists.  For different reasons the medical profession in both nations are not as attractive as other options.

The UK dealt with it by inward migration of doctors and dentists from nations like India who were trained, competent, spoke English, are willing to work hard and got a better financial deal than they would have done in India.

Ukraine on the other hand can fix the problem without resorting to the importing of doctors.  In fact it probably couldn’t import them.  Doctors in Ukraine probably make less (in the white economy) than Indian doctors in India – who would come and how would they communicate?  The migrant doctors and dentists to the UK could at least for the most part speak very good English before coming due to the legacy of the Empire.

Ukraine can fix it by increased wages but also increased standards in the State facilities these people have to work in.  The private hospitals in Odessa are not short of doctors, quality equipment and are working in conditions that do not resemble Colonel Gadhafi’s bunker after a NATO bombing raid which those of the State do.

The question is does Ukraine have the budget to do that?  After the doctors come the nurses, dentists, teachers, police, fire, ambulance, border control and other state agencies employing people who are underpaid (although in many cases overstaffed unlike the issue with doctors).

A serious look at the administration behind each and every state agency is required to deliver a policy where unnecessary numbers are reduced and the funding recovered redirected to where it is needed, namely increased wages and surroundings for those who remain.

It is absolutely bizarre to think that I can make more than a Ukrainian doctor (no matter how senior) by writing a few articles here in cyberspace for people inside a week than a doctor makes (in the white economy) in a month.

What do I provide in comparison to doctors?  I know it depends what I am asked to write about, who the employers are and what they will do with/how they act upon what I provide.  To be truthful, in the past six or seven years I would say that only maybe three or four works I have penned (do you pen when writing at a computer?) have had the capacity to impact a community like a doctor does.

Now quite possibly that is because I write rubbish most of the time, but that rubbish is framed by the employer wanting to know about the make-up and demand of and on the cement market in Ukraine or how would the EU Directive 2004/24/EC effect their distribution from Ukraine in Europe.  In effect it is not as universally helpful as a doctor.

That is not to say I am not grateful for people/entities being willing to pay to pick my brains.  I am.  However I am certainly more grateful for there being doctors who can put my brain together again if necessary.

Anyway, I digress.

The Health Ministry has identified a problem (a missing 47,000 doctors) and has identified some of the reasons why.  What are they going to do about it?  What is the policy?  What is the strategy to turn this situation around?  I can save numerous government department a lot of time by simply pointing out problems and telling them why they exist.  I don’t really need the government to tell me what they are as I live with them every day.

I am pleased they realise there is a problem but what I want to know is how they are going to address it and over what time-scale.  Having raised the problem in public, tell the public your proposed solutions.  Heaven only knows how refreshing a few policies being parades to the thinking Ukrainian public would be.  Actioning them in accordance to those publicly declared policies may even make people think you are worth voting for!

There is an election in 14 months, now would be a good time to start a policy parade for public consumption.

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