Hanoi health workers quit in droves over heavy workload, low pay

By Thuy An   June 28, 2022 | 05:00 am PT
Hanoi health workers quit in droves over heavy workload, low pay
A health worker takes care of a Covid-19 patient on an ambulance in Hanoi. Photo by VnExpress/Giang Huy
Around 900 health workers in Hanoi have either quit or switched workplaces in the past 18 months, causing a medical personnel shortage in the capital.

A report by Hanoi People's Committee on June 20 revealed 532 medical personnel had quit last year, while 82 decided to switch workplaces. In the first four months of this year, 226 have quit and 17 switched workplaces, the report added.

Hanoi said the medical field has focused all its resources on fighting the pandemic since 2020. Due to the low number of workers, the sheer amount of workload and lower incomes and benefits in public facilities, many are opting to quit or seek better opportunities.

Hoa, the former head of a ward medical station in Dong Da District, said her workload was too much while her salary wasn't enough to make a living. She quit at the end of March.

During the height of the pandemic, Hoa and her colleagues did contact tracing and vaccination day in and day out. Pressure was building up, yet they only got a "bonus" of VND500,000 ($21.50). Her colleagues, a married couple, only got VND8 million a month in total.

Amid a worker exodus in the medical field and a possible risk of new coronavirus variants and outbreaks, Hanoi People's Committee said if there are not enough workers, "a catastrophe would be unpredictable."

In fact, many Covid-19 patients in Hanoi back in March had to treat themselves at home when they could not contact health workers swamped with work. For example, in some areas of Hoang Mai and Dong Da districts, there were only five to 10 health workers for every 30,000 citizens, forcing even those who had contracted Covid-19 to work too. Healthcare quality suffered as a result.

The Hanoi Department of Health has since requested the People's Committee to introduce more policies to support health workers. A proposal is expected to be presented before the People's Council in a meeting early next month.

Hanoi isn't the only metropolis seeing health workers quitting en-masse. In Ho Chi Minh City, around 400 have already quit within the first quarter, equal to the number of health workers who quit during pre-Covid years on average. In 2021 alone, the southern city saw 1,154 health workers quit, triggering a severe personnel shortage.

In April, HCMC passed a resolution that would provide VND138 billion a year to 310 medical stations until 2025 to attract more talents.

*Names have been changed for anonymity reasons.

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