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Hungary's underpaid doctors go west

The Hungarian government is trying to tame the wave of medical doctors leaving the country by offering them money to stay, says The Wall Street Journal. But as the application deadline approaches later Monday, few have expressed interest in the government scheme.

Under the program, Hungarian doctors can receive HUF 100,000 ($530) net on top of their monthly salaries for a period of five years. This means the doubling of their wages during that time. In return, the program’s participants have to make a commitment to practice medicine in Hungary for at least 10 years and to never accept any gratuity money from patients, a widespread practice in Hungary.

But it appears the initiative has fallen well short of the originally expected 600 professionals. Fewer than a hundred career-starting doctors have so far preferred some extra pay over the possibility of working abroad, according to Hungarian daily Nepszabadsag.

Career starters apparently don’t want to make such commitments because they don’t see that their livelihoods would be guaranteed once the five years on a double salary are over. A survey conducted by the association found that 74% of new medical graduates are planning to work abroad.

Doctors want to get a 100% increase in their salaries, which would take 200 billion forints in total. But the rise would still mean they’d be making less than the European average, they say. Hungary’s medical residents now earn in the range of 80,000 forints to 100,000 forints net, while the average net salary in the country was 140,300 forints in June.