ATHENS – Adding to the “brain drain” of Greece’s best-and-brightest – and youngest and entrepreneurs and skilled professionals – the country’s near decade-long economic crisis saw some 18,000 doctors leave the country to find work and a better life elsewhere.
That was the finding of a study from the Athens Medical Association (ISA) which said the exodus, although slower, has continued through 2019, after the July 7 election of New Democracy, which ousted the former ruling Radical Left SYRIZA.
Between January 1 and December 16, ISA issued 1,097 certificates for doctors applying for a job outside Greece, slightly down from 1,191 in 2018 and from 1,297 in 2017, said Kathimerini in a report on the phenomenon.
The worst period, during an earlier New Democracy-led government, was in 2012 when ISA issued 1,808 certificates as doctors moved to other countries seeking better positions, higher pay and prestige for their work.
The main reasons cited were high unemployment (permanent hirings in the National Health System were frozen for 10 years) and low wages with doctors in state hospitals often unpaid for weeks or months during the height of the crisis.
The most preferred destination for Greek doctors heading abroad, with most having English-speaking abilities, was the United Kingdom, where 45 percent chose to live and work after leaving their homeland far behind.