Romanian PM mulls ways to keep medics working during COVID-19 crisis, as dozens quit or go on leave

Foto: INQUAM/Octav Ganea

Romania’s Prime Minister Ludovic Orban said the government was reviewing how it could convince medics to keep working during the coronavirus pandemic as dozens of doctors said they would quit or retire early, and others went on leave.

Orban told Europa FM on Wednesday that the government could strip doctors of the right to practice or extend the notice period if they resign.

 “Personally, I’m not in favor of an extreme option,” he said. “I’d  give them time to think, to extend the notice period,” in which time they’d still work, he said.

Some 357 health care staff have tested positive for the new coronavirus throughout the country, including 99 doctors, the government said.

Romania spends just 5.5 % of its GDP on health, less than half the European Union average. The government has pumped more funds in the health care system during the crisis. President Klaus Iohannis has promised more investment once the crisis subsides.

Orban said some people believed _ politicians and non-politicians_that medics should be banned from practicing medicine if they quit their jobs during the current crisis: “but Romania has a shortage of health care staff,” he said. “We need every medic, every nurse, all experienced staff. “

“We need to provide better conditions in hospitals, to buy the necessary materials, and provide the necessary resources.”

Hundreds of health care professionals have been infected with the new coronavirus, due to inadequate protective equipment, but also mismanagement, negligence and corruption.

Fourteen medics at the Arad Emergency Hospital have resigned or asked to retire in recent days, saying they don’t want to infect their families, according to hospital manager Carmen Lucuta. Another 83 health care staff have taken annual leave, and others are sick, leaving the facility understaffed and unable to treat some patients.

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An outbreak at hospital in northern Romania led to the city of Suceava being placed under a strict lockdown. Three major hospitals in Bucharest reported a rise in infected health-care workers.


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