Greece hemorrhaging doctors

At least 3,000 Greek doctors have relocated to the UK over the past three years, while a considerable number have also departed for countries such as Germany, Sweden and France. Field experts attribute the trend to an overabundance of medical graduates from both Greek and foreign universities, as well as unfavorable local conditions. Negative factors include high concentrations of doctors in urban centers, great delays in residencies that can last as long as a decade, underemployment, unemployment and low incomes. In many cases, the relocation processes of Greek doctors are initiated by the scouting efforts of foreign employment agencies, as well as by the British Council, which organized seminars in Athens and Thessaloniki earlier this year. Classified ads posted by British agencies on behalf of the British government appear regularly on the website of ISA, the Athens Medical Society, promising Greek doctors UK-level work conditions and attractive remuneration packages, usually between 80,000 and 160,000 euros per annum. Additional offers include pledges for membership with the British medical society within two months and assistance in finding accommodation. Greek doctors are usually offered initial six-month contracts and serious prospects for long-term deals. Some 2,000 doctors in Athens remain either unemployed or underemployed, while approximately 6,000 are on waiting lists for residencies. Among European capitals, Athens has the highest ratio of doctors per citizen, now at one doctor for every 138 persons. Foreign doctors employed in Greece represent 2.54 percent of the field’s work force, a study by ISA showed. The majority are stationed in Athens and hail from Cyprus, Albania and the former Eastern bloc countries.