Amendments to the Healthcare Act should ensure better working conditions in primary healthcare as they are the main reason why young doctors are leaving Croatia, the HLK said after a meeting with representatives of the Health Ministry and the Croatian Health Insurance Fund (HZZO), which focused on the situation and future solutions in family medicine and gynecology.
Primary healthcare spends only a small portion of the HZZO budget and even a minor additional investment in this area of healthcare would greatly benefit both citizens and the health system, they said.
Besides the shortage, it is worrying that family doctors are 52 years old on average and 33% are over 60, including 184 over 65 who are eligible for retirement, the HLK said.
The situation is equally bad with primary healthcare gynecologists as there is a shortage of 31% or 104 doctors. One gynecologist has 5,500 patients on average, which means that at least 250,000 women don’t have one in primary healthcare, and these doctors are 54 years old on average, the HLK said, adding that the situation is worst in Brod-Posavina, Bjelovar-Bilogora, and Lika-Senj counties.
Increasing the number of doctors would reduce the average number of patients per doctor and it is also necessary to relieve teams of administrative duties in order to improve quality and efficiency, HLK representatives said at the meeting.
Lack of investment in primary healthcare, which is expected to provide for 80% of citizens’ health needs so as to relieve the more expensive hospital system, has resulted in less available health services and poorer treatment outcomes. However, family and general medicine doctors had more contact with patients during the pandemic, according to the HZZO’s 2020 report.
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