No pay, no cure
In 2011 I visited several hospitals throughout Roumania. What struck me the most was the difference between private hospitals (very modern and very well equipped) and the public hospitals that look dismal and where time seems to have stopped while the country was still under communist rule.
In November 2011, the Government announced and proposed a completely new healthcare system. The main changes were: the privatization of all hospitals and public clinics, the replacement of the public health insurance with private insurances and the mandatory contribution to a private healthcare contractor, where all public health care used to be free. President Băsescu wanted the hospital management to be privatized. Doctors can now negotiate their salary, which makes little difference because they in fact already did. The project however, was withdrawn in January 2012. It caused great controversy and received extensive media coverage. As a result of the proposal a state secretary resigned. This caused protests in Bucharest and other major cities in Roumania. The protests ceased on the 6th of February.
The medical system is affected by a lack of medical staff. This is due to the low wages and the attractive working conditions in other countries. Many excellent medics and nurses left their country to work in the medical system in Italy, Spain, France, Belgium.
Another issue is the high level of out-of-pocket spending by patients. Due to the bribing that is “traditionally” practiced ever since the communist era. A great many patients told me it is common practice to bribe doctors and nurses. “If you don,’t, your simply don’t get a good treatment.” I also heard many complaints about an almost general lack of basic supplies in public hospitals, such as tampons. Patients know very well they have to bring certain supplies (like tampons) themselves.