A third of young people who study medicine abroad do not return to Luxembourg to practice here. At the same time, long waiting times, overcrowded emergency rooms and doctors who no longer accept new patients are the order of the day in Luxembourg. Why do so few come back? And how did an attempted reform become a missed opportunity?
Charel (name changed by the editors) has already completed six years of basic medical studies in Germany. When he had to decide whether to stay in Germany for his specialisation or come back to Luxembourg, he chose his home country. And that, "although there are not really many criteria that speak for it ", as he says. Nik (name changed by the editors), also a medical intern in Luxembourg, sits next to him and nods. He, too, has chosen Luxembourg and he, too, thinks that interns are not appreciated enough here. "The basic tenor of the whole discussion is that we are needed, but nobody wants to do anything for us", Charel sums up his frustration.
It is undisputed that young doctors are needed: By 2034, 71 percent of doctors in Luxembourg will retire. This is the conclusion of the study "Etat des lieux des professions de santé et des professions médicales", conducted by Marie-Lise Lair and presented in 2019, commissioned in 2018 by the then Minister of Health Etienne Schneider (LSAP). As if the situation – which is part of a worldwide shortage of doctors and is exacerbated by a growing and ageing population – were not already worrying enough, from today's perspective, when looking at the PowerPoint presentation from back then, one sentence on page eleven in particular stands out: "Pas de situation épidémiologique nécessitant plus de ressources professionnelles (No epidemiological situation requiring more professional resources)". How the situation has changed due to the pandemic, the Ministry of Health has not yet been able to determine, according to its own statements, due to lack of time because of this same pandemic. "The 2018 figures are the most recent we have", the Villa Louvigny states.
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