Doctors say state must act over GP shortage

GPs in Slovakia have up to 3,000 patients – usual figure abroad is 1,000.

Illustrative stock photoIllustrative stock photo (Source: TASR)

Michaela Macháčová, a general practitioner from the Topoľčany district, speaks of “working on quantity” when she talks about the critical shortage of GPs in the country’s health-care sector.

Slovak doctors say that there used to be a doctor in nearly every small village in Slovakia in the past, but that today, in many regions, there is a severe shortage of GPs and those who are practicing are old.

While in western countries there is one GP for every 1,000 patients, in Slovakia that number rises to one GP for every 2,000 patients, according to Peter Makara, chair of the Slovak Society of General Practice. Meanwhile, about 30 percent of the 2,200 GPs currently active in Slovakia are older than 65.

And doctors who spoke to The Slovak Spectator said that in many cases there is no one to take over their practice when they retire.

The topic was also discussed at the WONCA Europe 2019 Conference, which brought 1,900 GPs from across the globe to Bratislava in late June to discuss their professions.

Related articleSlovak hospitals would welcome medical staff from outside the EU Read more 

“We need to make general practice attractive for young people,” said Macháčová, who is also president of the conference.

The Health Ministry, meanwhile, says it is taking steps to solve this long-term problem.

Primary care crucial

One of the main themes at the WONCA conference was the importance of personal contact between a GP and their patients. This, however, becomes a problem when there are too many patients per one doctor.

Macháčová, for example, said she has 2,400 patients, but that but some GPs are responsible for as many as 3,000-5,000 people.

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