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Patchy spread of specialists mars healthcare


International Live: A rising imbalance in the spread of medical specialists between various fields is threatening to derange the country’ medical sector, reports a Health and Social Affairs ministry study.

Currently, the number of medical training courses offered in some medical fields is rising sharply, while that number in other fields is declining.

The study recommends that the number of trainees, for instance, in physiotherapy, respiratory medicine, psychiatry, and rheumatology, should be doubled.

On the other hand, there is a huge need for scaling down the training programmes in orthopaedics, plastic surgery, and eye diseases, said the study report.

Medical specialist Johanna Rellman, a member of the study team, attributed this transitional phase in medical training to the recent waves of retirement by medical specialists.

Currently about 350 medical specialists retire a year, and by 2020 their number will rise to nearly 500.

“At the same time, it is evident that young doctors are heading towards certain fields such as surgery. But, the other fields are already suffering from a shortage of medical specialists,” said Rellman.

Kalle Tapola,a medical student specialising in physiatrics in his office at Tampere’s Tays Central Hospital Physiatrics Unit on 21 April 2016. Photo Lehtikuva.
Approximately 500 medical specialists graduate annually. In the future, the number of medical specialists, according to an estimate has to be increased by a hundred more to compensate for the mass retirements.

Regionally, the largest increase in specialist medical training courses is needed at the University of Eastern Finland, and possibly also at the University of Helsinki due to population growth in the capital city region.

The situation of number of doctors at university hospitals is good. However, many central hospitals are also suffering from shortage of doctors.

The Ministry of Health and Social Affairs is currently working on reforms to the medical training.

“Nowadays, applications by young doctors to study in certain specialties are not controlled or regulated,” said Teppo Heikkilä, chief medical officer at the ministry.

In the future the situation may improve. The ministry is deliberating on a control method which will see sufficient and correct allocation numbers of medical specialists in all specialised areas.

For instance, universities will have to introduce a genuine selection process or the funding be changed in a way that the provider of education receives more aid for those special fields where there is a shortage of doctors.

The study is currently being circulated for comments, after which the ministry plans to initiate a programme geared towards development of the training courses.

Dhaka, 25 April FR

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