48% dip in Indian doctors who went overseas in 2017


Times of India    16 February 2018

BENGALURU: In what must come as good news to a stretched healthcare system, the number of doctors going abroad dipped by 48% in 2017 compared to the previous year and 51% over 2015.Doctors say policy changes in western countries such as US and UK have made it tougher for Indians there while the improving infrastructure and salary back home are proving to be a draw.

Medical experts say the country needs far more doctors than the 10.4 lakh practising as of 2017 – the ratio is one doctor to 1,596 patients, the government admitted last year. There is a heavy geographical skew in the current distribution as well, with just five states accounting for 52% of the force.According to the Medical Council of India, the number of doctors seeking the Good Standing Certificate (GSC), issued to Indian doctors who wish to serve abroad, stood at 1,469 at the end of 2017, compared to 2,985 in 2015 and 2,802 in 2016.Dr Niranjan Reddy, who has just returned from the United States, says, “My wife’s still working there, but the situation is not the same as last year. The politics has changed policies and the locals are also protesting the selection of too many Indians into residencies.”Fall in salaries in US forcing docs to returnThere are multiple factors that we must consider. Earning good money is no longer difficult in India, there are also social pressures that come into play, which is why several of them are seen returning to India,” says Dr A Jagadeesh of Abhaya Hospital. “But yes, changes in policies abroad have had a huge impact.”Reddy says that apart from policy changes, diminishing salaries in the US have tipped the balance and would continue to do so. “In the last four-five years, the salaries of doctors in the US — barring cardiologists — has reduced by 30% to 40%. Contrary to this, in India, the salaries are going up. Also, the way private clinics work here is very encouraging for many doctors.”

Another doctor who worked in the UK until recently says access to insurance in India has proved a game-changer. More people are able to afford expensive procedures, thereby allowing the healthcare industry to pay doctors better.Shortfall Concerns The fall in migration, however, is not enough to impact the ground situation in India significantly, say medical experts.

As of September 2017—the latest data available — there are 10.4 lakh doctors registered and practising in India. Just five states —Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh (includes Telangana) and Uttar Pradesh — account for 5.4 lakh doctors or 52% of the pool. Also, according to MCI, at any point in time, only 80% of them — 8.3 lakh — are available for service, which means that India has one doctor for 1,596 people. This is a slight improvement from 10.1 lakh doctors in April 2017, and 9.5 lakh doctors in 2015.“We need to have tens of more colleges coming up in rural areas if we want to see more doctors registering and practising in India,” says Dr Ajit Benedict Ryan of Hosmat Hospital. “Even among the doctors we have, a majority are in urban areas, and mostly in big cities.”

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