ER Editor: We also recommend this piece titled Europe has a shortage of doctors, amplifying the point of the Gefira article published below. Of note:
In the countries which joined the EU more recently, the problem is elsewhere. These states often have difficulty retaining their health professionals. This is also the case in countries hit hardest by the crisis, such as Portugal and Greece, where the turnover is significant. Long working hours, stress, difficulties managing work-life balance, low pay, lack of quality infrastructure, all of this can help push people to quit. Or to go practice in a different country, where better conditions are on offer. Among all the professions combined, doctors are those who emigrate the most in Europe. This is primarily migration from East to West, and South to North. This phenomenon increases the lack of doctors in certain countries, such as Poland and Hungary, while many foreign doctors end up settling in places such as Germany, the Scandinavian countries, but above all the UK.
Poland’s brain drain of doctors and others began some time ago, in 2005, a year after Poland joined the EU. Here is the Guardian’s 2005 take on the matter: Doctors go west in Polish brain drain.
Surgeons of our minds
A piece of stats news has broken in Poland, that the number of surgeons has dropped by a quarter (one fourth, twenty-five percent) as compared to 2006. Within thirteen years. Make a guess – what happened? How did such a large number of doctors disappear? Did young people stop being interested in medical studies? No. Make another guess. Is the demand for surgery much smaller since society at large is healthier, and healthier courtesy of the salutary regulations and decrees of the European Union? No. Make another guess... Did the surgeons emigrate to Western countries … ? Spot on! Bingo!
Western intellectual circles regard it as evil to exploit weaker nations, especially the Third World countries. They love calling such behaviour fascism (a very fashionable offensive appellation these days) or racism or what not. Occupying the moral high ground, they applaud sending doctors to Somalia or Nigeria or Bangladesh. Yet somewhat miraculously, this principle does not apply when physicians from Eastern Europe keep coming to the Western states, draining East European health care systems. Why shouldn’t they after all? We need them – say Western intellectuals – our societies are growing older, there must be someone willing to take care of them.
How do the Western intellectuals reconcile their indignation at exploiting poorer (Third World) countries by depriving Eastern Europeans of their doctors? Oh, come on, another lofty principle is made use of: human rights, among which the freedom of movement is especially enshrined. So the story goes, “we do not rob the poorer countries of their doctors (engineers, teachers, professionals of any kind): they merely use their human rights and flock to places where they have better economic conditions.”
There are two buts. Medical studies cost a lot of money. Very few students in a country like Poland pay for their education: the six-year university course is lavishly paid by the state, by the tax-payers, by all those Poles who are and will be in need of medical care. These studies are not paid by British, French, German or Norwegian tax-payers. So the deal that the Western countries are making is very profitable. They tell East European suckers to raise their young men and women from cradle till graduation – schools of various types, medical care, you name it – and then send them over to France, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Australia, Canada, where profit will be reaped without investing a cent.
Both parties to the deal – the Western governments and their Eastern counterparts – knew it very well that open borders due to uneven levels of economic advancement would translate into one-way movement. A phenomenon comparable to the one known from physics about the flow of a liquid into communicating vessels. Easy to predict for anyone and everyone. Open your borders and let yourselves be robbed. In the name of the oh so lofty, high-flown human rights.
There is one factor that might make those surgeons (doctors of other specialties, engineers, teachers, other professionals) reconsider. Patriotism. Duty to the community that enabled your education, invested in your well-being and rightly expects at least a measure of gratefulness. And this is why this feeling of duty, this feeling of connection to your folks is fiercely suppressed by the exploiters. Patriotism? Oh come on! This is a nineteenth-century – read: old-fashioned, outmoded, outdated, in a word a shameful – concept!
Isn’t it unnatural, then, that the surgeons and other professionals – once relocated to their adopted father- or motherlands of plenty – dabble in virtue signalling and are oh so eager to help – toss the leftovers from their tables to … the poor and the needy the world over?
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