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A Nurses Union of Thailand report finds that many public health officials want to resign ahead of retirement age as heavy workloads burden them with cancer, diabetes and hypertension, leading to early death.

A nurse tending her own wound.

On 18 June, the Nurses Union of Thailand (NUOT) published the results of an opinion poll of 4,563 nurses and public health workers on remaining in the Ministry of Public Health, which garnered 2,072 recommendations.

The report found that average desired resignation age is 51, about 9-12 years ahead of the official retirement age. The reasons are frustration with the management system and poor prospects for career advancement. The result is concerning because by 51, staff have specialized and their resignation would result in a significant increase in the workload of remaining staff with consequences for the public.

It also found that many public health staff have health problems, especially cancer, diabetes and hypertension, due to hard work and a lack of good health care. Many nurses about 50 years old suffer from cancer. Also, more than 3% of retired personnel die before qualifying for their pension.

Some doctors who participated in the poll also said that they want to quit because of the difficulty of career advancement. The civil service promotion system requires them to publish academic papers in specific journals, which they found arduous while working in hospital.

However, doctors are amount to a very little proportion in the poll.

NUOT stated that they presented their suggestions for career promotion to the Ministry of Public Health Permanent Secretary in August 2019, The suggestions include a method of qualifying for promotion for all public health disciplines which is not excessively strict.

“We want it to flow like the police or military. The work of our Ministry is the hardest but we cannot grow, we cannot advance. Teachers do not have many students and can gain special expertise. But we have 700-800 patients daily and get just this. It makes them wonder why they would want to stay,” states the report.

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