Doctor Kassim Replies to Claims There's "Excess Number of Doctors" (3)
2021-03-18 - 8:46 am
Bahrain Mirror (Exclusive): There are more than 400 unemployed doctors and nurses in Bahrain, whom the Health Ministry consider a surplus. Meanwhile, you can see how the three main hospitals in Bahrain are filled with foreign doctors of different nationalities... So what's the story?
In his statement to "Bahrain Mirror", Dr. Kassim Omran says that the unemployment of doctors in Bahrain is "deliberate", adding that "[unemployment] cannot be a result of the natural increase of medical graduates or a excess," as some officials claim.
Dr. Omran explains that "the number of graduates does not suddenly decrease without warning to decision makers, but is the product of a reasonable cumulative number of graduates per year."
In 2018, in response to a proposal to form a medical college affiliated with the University of Bahrain, the government said that local and foreign universities graduate more than 180 doctors a year.
Omran says that no matter how high the number of medicine and nursing graduates reaches, even in the poorest countries and those that graduate the highest number of nurses and doctors, you will not see any unemployed doctors among them. He adds "maybe you see doctors immigrating to other states seeking better opportunities. However, this happens after being involved in the local medical system and receiving training opportunities."
The government's medical training program can comprise 60 doctors per year. This limited number has pushed the unemployed doctors to join private hospitals in the Gulf States, as graduates pay a lot of money in return for training, or work in private hospitals in Bahrain for a low salary.
He goes on to say that "many have surrendered to the fait accompli and turned away from the practice of medicine and nursing (....) a journalist once said that one evening he was eating a (Shawarma) sandwich, and discovered that the one who was selling him was a graduate doctor, who was driven by despair and need to work in selling Shawarma."
Instead of finding durable and genuine solutions to embrace graduates, the Ministry of Health instructed Gulf University to accept graduates in a two-year non-clinical academic program. Omran describes this program as "unaccredited and unprecedented", adding that "this program ends with a meaningless certificate, without specialization, and without clinical experience."
Is there Really Excess in the Number of Doctors and Nurses?
Asked if the number of graduates actually exceeds Bahrain's needs with respect to the population, Omran wondered "what is the professional criteria that has been used to know if they are in excess?" He says, "if we assume it is true that there is an excess of doctors and nurses, why are hospitals and health centers full of foreign nurses and doctors?" "Why is there no clear national plan to replace foreigners with Bahrainis?"
He sees that the employment of foreigners "at a great cost" confirms that "it is a matter of lack of will to solve the problem of unemployment and exposes the officials' persistence claiming that there is a surplus in the number of graduates."
At a time when the Government is abdicating its responsibilities in training graduate doctors, it calls on private hospitals and clinics to play their part in training and hiring graduates.
"Isn't it better for the public health sector to be the role model and initiator in this national mission (...) There are significant health needs in Bahrain that can only be met by relying on Bahrainis."
What is the solution then?
Omran believes that the solution requires the existence of the government's will at first to develop a radical solution to the crisis and then discuss the form of training program required to qualify these graduates.
He suggests that the ministry "adopts a model training program for new graduates with professional standards for specific years in accordance with international standards in medical training."
"The Ministry can set all the requirements of the program and the least level of qualifications as well as methods of verifying the quality of the training (...) and can manage this central program. The trainee can be registered through this training program, in a way that the ministry would be the one to coordinate their financial rewards and guarantees their pension rights, and be the responsible party over them."
Omran stresses that this way "will take into account the dignity and prestige of medical graduates, and save them from being lost or from adopting misconceptions about medical practice when practicing the profession without legal guidance (...) It will also steer them clear from cheap extortion and exploitation they are subjected to by some private medical bodies."
As for the mechanism of ensuring this, Omran stresses that "it is possible to coordinate with some departments and some consultants known for their competence to include graduates in their extended training staff, according to the training requirements and according to their ability to meet them. Then, we guarantee that the trainee health graduates, doctors and nurses alike, receive the required expertise in these secondary training centers, in addition to training in the three government hospitals within a single program that accommodates all without discrimination."