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“In Romania, with a population of 19 million, there are only 48 doctors specialising in radiotherapy, despite having high rates of cancer in the country. We have an ageing population, yet there are only 54 doctors specialising in geriatrics. Across the country, in intensive care units there should be 1,800 doctors employed but there are only 624. There are only 70 cardiovascular specialists in all of the country.” Mariana Campeanu, Romania’s labour minister, said: “The phenomenon of a brain drain in Romania is a reality. Doctors and nurses from the eastern European countries, including Romania, are choosing to work in other member states of the EU, where they may have higher financial benefits and better working conditions.” She said the Romanian government was acutely aware of the issue and was trying to tackle the problem to “maintain the stability of the health system in Romania and thus the health of the population. “A first step in this direction was the introduction this year of salary supplements for medical residents, representing a salary increase of about 20-25%,” she said. Astarastoae said Romania was losing out twice by paying to train thousands of doctors only for other countries, including the UK, to reap the benefits. “Romania spends 3.5bn (2.9bn) educating doctors; we are basically spending it on solving problems in the UK, Germany and France. You can earn 4,000 [a month] as a doctor overseas rather than 400 in Romania. For some specialities, like anaesthesiologists or cardiovascular surgeons, they can earn 30 times more.” Last October medical workers in Romania picketed the ministry of labour and the ministry of health demanding changes. The government subsequently agreed to increase the starting wage for resident doctors from 200 to 350 a month through a scholarship scheme, as well as agreeing to increase the health budget from 3.7% to 4.3% of GDP. But for doctors like Dorin Gherasim, a 28-year-old neurosurgical resident from Targu Mures in the north of country, this is unlikely to stop the exodus. “This really feels like a crisis,” said Gherasim, who earns 400 a month. “Any medical resident my age is thinking about emigrating. Germany, France, the UK.