11 July 2024

Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health and the Civil Service Commission (CSC) have agreed that about 35,000 positions for doctors and 140,000 positions for nurses will be created in the next three years, to address the shortage of medical staff and the brain drain from the state sector, especially among interns.

Dr. Taweesin Visanuyothin, deputy permanent secretary of public health, said today (Tuesday) that, in the long-term, about 2,000 additional medical students will be admitted to medical schools each year, resulting in more doctors graduating in the future.

Regarding career paths for doctors in state hospitals, the CSC and the Public Health Ministry agreed that certain regulations will be reviewed to upgrade the status of doctors to specialists, as an incentive to prevent them from leaving to join private hospitals, where the pay is higher and the workload is lower, said Dr Taweesin.

In recent years, resignations among interns at state hospitals has increased, with many of them choosing to further their studies in specialised fields. The Medical Council has recently recommended that interns should work at local hospitals for at least two years, instead of one.

Overwork is one reason why many young doctors quit state hospitals. According to the Medical Council, they are supposed to work no more than 40 hours a week but, in reality, most of them work longer hours, due to a shortage of doctors and the rising number of patients.

For instance, in the north-eastern province of Bueng Kan, there are only 73 doctors for a population of 421,995, or one doctor per about 6,000 people.