Why this story matters:
One country's trash is another country's treasure. That is how I'd summarize the issue of the medical brain drain from Croatia, and other Balkan countries.
For years, Croatian authorities have been showing little respect towards nurses. The majority work in the public sector, where they are paid low wages, seldom rewarded for overtime, and generally disrespected despite their hard work.
The skills and competences of Croatian nurses are much more appreciated outside abroad, and Western European countries gladly welcome them. Germany, for example, encourages Croats to take jobs in its clinics and hospitals -- offering higher salaries, better working conditions and a more prestigious social status.
Since Croatia joined the EU five years ago, thousands of Croatian medical workers have moved across the Union for better work and a more dignified life. Those who are still in Croatia protest and report being demotivated.
And that is the most worrying fact of it all. A growing dissatisfaction with working conditions affects the overall quality of health care services. The average Croatian nurse is responsible for over two hundred patients according to some calculations.
Croatian health care is clearly sick. But how long until someone makes a diagnosis? The government cannot claim economic savings at the expense of the health of their citizens for much longer.
Details from the story:
- More than a thousand of nurses have left Croatia in the last year and a half, according to estimates of the Croatian union of nurses and medical technicians. Hospitals and clinics in Croatia are missing ten times as many.
- According to the Union of nurses, Croatia has some 500 nurses per 100,000 people or one nurse per 222 citizens, which is around 50 percent less than the EU average.
- The union says low wages and unsatisfactory working conditions are among main reasons why nurses leave Croatia. Croatian nurses mainly go to Germany, Ireland and Austria.
- Around a thousand of nurses marched on International Nurses Day (May 12) through the streets of Zagreb, demanding that the authorities, among other requests, comply with collective agreements and ensure that their overtime was paid.