LIFESTYLE - CAREERS

Report: Luxembourg lacks occupational doctors



By law, there should be one occupational physician for every 5,000 workers in Luxembourg. The ratio is unrealistic, however, says the Chamber of Employees Shutterstock

By law, there should be one occupational physician for every 5,000 workers in Luxembourg. The ratio is unrealistic, however, says the Chamber of Employees Shutterstock

Luxembourg has a serious shortage of occupational doctors, a federation for workers has warned, with one doctor for every 6,300 employees. The legal ratio is 1 occupational doctor for every 5,000 workers.

The warning was issued in a Chambre des Salariés report to improve health in Luxembourg, published on Tuesday.

It said that an occupational health audit placed the rate at 6,300 workers for each doctor. “At present, however, it is probably closer to 7,000 employees for one occupational physician.”

The report author suggested the legal ratio was “not realistic”, given the number of doctors in the country, and “has never been reached” but the situation has not improved either. What is more, without intervention it is likely to worsen as in the next ten years, about half of the occupational doctors are expected to reach retirement age.  

“In view of this observation and in the current context of a favourable economic situation, it would be grossly negligent not to act urgently and implement reforms to free up the resources to recruit the number of occupational physicians needed for quality occupational medicine,” the report said.

The report author credits the shortage to the pay gap between occupational doctors and general practitioners and to competition for such skills in neighbouring countries.

“Occupational physicians working in Luxembourg have been trained abroad (very often in Belgium). As other European countries are also experiencing a shortage of occupational physicians, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find a suitable candidate,” the report explained.

The chamber calls for a pay review and improvement of working conditions for occupational doctors to make the career path more attractive, the urgent recruitment of occupational physicians to reach a ratio of one for every 5,000 workers, the creation of a cycle of specialised studies in occupational health by the University of Luxembourg, and the hiring of occupational health nurses to take care of standard examinations.