Mon, 04 Dec 2023 Today's Paper

Authorities admit migration of doctors beyond their control

14 September 2023 09:55 am - 65     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


  • Medical specialists migrate due to low salaries
  • Foreign countries eye SL specialists for higher salaries   


With the migration of medical professionals from Sri Lanka reaching an alarming level, exacerbated by the low salaries offered to specialists, the health authorities are now admitting that the situation is beyond their control.   

According to a top source of the Health Ministry, the Ministry is disappointed with the lack of support from relevant stakeholders such as Medical Colleges, Public Service Commission, and the Ministry of Public Administration in addressing this issue.   

“Immediate actions to tackle the exodus of doctors, particularly specialists, have become increasingly difficult,” the source said.   

Furthermore, a total of 274 specialists have migrated since last year with an additional 160 leaving the country without the ministry’s permission. Moreover, 785 specialists are set to go overseas for training, while approximately 600 doctors are expected to retire next year.   

Commenting on the matter, Dr Ashoka Gunaratne, the media spokesman for the Association of Medical Specialists (AMS), highlighted the significant role played by low salaries in the rising number of doctors migrating.   

He explained that the current salaries offered to medical specialists are insufficient to meet their critical needs, especially considering new taxation and a higher cost of living.

In contrast, foreign countries offer higher salaries and better accommodations, making them more attractive to Sri Lankan doctors.   

Gunaratne admitted that there is no concrete solution to address the migration issue at present, leaving the health sector on the verge of a major crisis.   

Meanwhile, informed sources reveal that Sri Lankan medical specialists receive an average salary of Rs 3.37 million in the UK, Rs 2.71 million in Australia, and Rs 1.6 million Oman and Rs 3.36 million in the UAE.   

In stark contrast, the salaries of medical specialists in Sri Lanka are alarmingly low. A senior specialist earns a monthly income of only Rs 201,000 after all deductions, while a junior specialist is paid a mere Rs 128,500.

This vast salary disparity has prompted an exodus of medical professionals seeking better financial opportunities elsewhere.   

As such, headhunters from the UK and Singapore are currently engaging in active efforts to target our doctors, with the purpose of recruiting them for opportunities in their respective countries.   

These headhunters are making the process of migrating exceptionally convenient for doctors.   

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  Comments - 65

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  • Siva Thursday, 14 September 2023 10:17 AM

    Sad truth!

    DPerera Thursday, 14 September 2023 10:19 AM

    Those who are asking for immediate election and change of government should now explain how a JVP government will stop doctors migration

    FairJudge Thursday, 14 September 2023 10:35 AM

    Specialists earn monthly income of Rs 200k?, then what about the income from private practices? Shouldn't all income be taxed? Also don't just compare salaries in UK and Australia etc in rupees also compare the expenses there they have to bear in dollars. Convert a loaf of bread, a mango, an electricity bill, school fees, transport costs etc also in dollars. Except in Middle East where people only go to 'work', countries like UK and Australia, and many other developed countries, people go there to live and hence. income as well as expenses need to be in dollars and if you want to convert them to rupees, convert both. Those developed countries have very established and effective tax systems and very little loop holes or any favours. That the way it should be

    Kasun Thursday, 14 September 2023 04:04 PM

    People like you deserve to have Ayurvedic, Unani, Acupuncture therapists around you, not Medical specialists.

    Jack the ripper Thursday, 14 September 2023 05:25 PM

    A typical frog in the well. You can treat your own heart attack with home remedies. And ointment

    Leenus Joshua Thursday, 14 September 2023 10:38 AM

    It's time to pass out more Apothecaries and Estate Medical Assistance for the current salary scales

    Mohideen Hussain Thursday, 14 September 2023 10:40 AM

    Our doctors have totally forgotten that the state (public tax money) has spent a fortune to educate them; our patients are providing them with hands-on experiments and experience even without holding the docs liable for the several medical misadventures that go unreported and unchallenged.

    Fathima Lai Thursday, 14 September 2023 01:59 PM

    Mohideen: Govt gives this opportunity to all Sri Lankan children but only a few smart students become doctors. Why don't you blame those end up nothing without any value for the country and sometimes to their own parents?

    Ranil Thursday, 14 September 2023 06:19 PM

    @Modieen, Just because medics got a free education does not mean they are indebted to the state. Nor are they immune from malpractice. What you don't understand is the basics in economics of human capital investment. Intellectual labour in a powerful "asset" beside the blood, sweat, tears and sacrifices these medics have made. This dignified human capital is the cream of many crops.

    An ailing person. Thursday, 14 September 2023 10:41 AM

    Allow Sri Lankan qualified doctors who are willing to return and practice in public and private sector.. They should be given re registration by Sri Lanka Medical Council even if they don’t have dual citizenship. However wherever humanity exists jealousy exist and the doctors will not be entertained back into Sri Lanka. The public suffers due to the arrogance of a few.

    Ruwan Thursday, 14 September 2023 10:47 AM

    It's not only the salary difference that makes doctors and other professionals leave Sri Lanka. Ashoka Gunaratna has missed the point.

    Truth about British Medical Doctors Thursday, 14 September 2023 10:48 AM

    While in Sri Lanka we are worshiping the doctors, hear the news coming out from British Television and News papers in the last 48 hours about a shocking survey of female British Surgeons conducted recently. According to the survey , majority of the female surgeons have said that they were sexually assaulted by male surgeons in operating theatres while surgeries were in progress. Some of them have told that they were even raped mainly by their male senior colleagues, Consultant Surgeons. They have said that these horrendous deeds by male Surgeons have been going on for decades in British hospitals. I want every Sri Lankan to google and get all the details, if this happening in British hospitals then how about in Sri Lankan hospitals !!!

    Lusty man sees everything with lusty eyes Thursday, 14 September 2023 04:08 PM

    Have you lost your thoughts, are insane. You deserve a mental asylum

    Herath Thursday, 14 September 2023 11:05 AM

    Now we know why so many Sri Lankan doctors flock to Britain. Did any one hear the BBC news yesterday about unbelievable things happening in British Surgeries; female doctors being sexually molested and some raped by their senior male medical doctors.

    Krrish Thursday, 14 September 2023 11:05 AM

    It’s okay. We have peni Dammika and mutti Pavithra for all ailments and sicknesses.

    European Thursday, 14 September 2023 11:06 AM

    I keep saying that most of the Sri Lankan medical staff never heard about the oath of Hippocrates. What about all these doctors giving priority to healthy familymembers for Western made vaccins during the first stage of the Covid pandemy? No one here believed me when I told them this fact. What about the high prices voor treatment in the private hospitals? What about the vulnerable who can not have access to proper care? In Europe you have to study hard for at least 8 years becoming a specialist. Most doctors have to pay off their studyloan of thousands of euro's. And still a lot of European doctors choose to work in poor undeveloped countries for very little money, because the have a caring mentality.

    Nothing special about pale skins Thursday, 14 September 2023 11:58 AM

    You must in mad, talk about ' oath of Hippocrates' Even in Europe no one talk like you, doctors work as professionally there as here. Living conditions and working conditions are bad here, so doctor flee. Maybe European doctor with too much time on their hands can go help needy overseas, but that would be rare minority. Plenty of such minded people become clergy or bhuddist priests here. Nothing special about pale skinned doctors.

    rbh Thursday, 14 September 2023 11:29 AM

    It's Happening only now migration of doctors beyond their control this a sudden movement and doctors are unable to give medicine due to quality and people target doctors from the other side of the story.

    Sam Mill Thursday, 14 September 2023 11:39 AM

    In developed countries, taxes are much more compare to SL, need to pay more than 30% for their 2nd half salary. Moreover, no one convert and compare living costs with developed countries. In addition, medical mistakes severely punished, but in SL, simply not. By combining private practice income, living standard is much better than overseas. But only reason I see that, they are migrating for their children's future

    How about poor EPF growth, low interest for superannuation Thursday, 14 September 2023 11:56 AM

    Doctors like everyone else think of not only the short term of salary, but also overall working and living conditions. Sri Lanka has poor working conditions for doctor in government, with so much corruption and poor practice why would they want to be here anymore. If they think of their children, education overseas provides easier path to university than the horror of Year 5 onwards here. Science and Mathematics in English is an improvement, but doctors would see the country education system as a lost cause for at least a decade. Finally, what about their long term - retirement. They make contributions to superannuation into EPF, and now the growth is capped. Conflict of Interest by Central Bank forcing EPF to take bad government offer of low interest, it is serving government more than EPF members. Overseas that is illegal. All that makes Sri Lanka a well worth escaping from as soon as possible.

    Mahila Friday, 15 September 2023 09:34 AM

    “Conflict of Interest by Central Bank FORCING EPF TO TAKE BAD GOVERNMENT OFFER OF LOW INTEREST, it is serving government more than EPF members. OVERSEAS THAT IS ILLEGAL. All that makes Sri Lanka a well worth escaping from as soon as possible.” EPF haircut was because esteemed Politicians, such as ‘Appachche’, Maestro, Messiah all dipped into the PURSE, Robbed and Looted, borrowed beyond limit, making the country Bankrupt!!??? Politicians Day Dream and the present year after year with Deficit BUDGETTING – PAST 75 YEARS, IS THE CAUSE of Bankruptcy!!! This hardly happens in western/Developed countries as they are more disciplined in their fiscal policies and compliance!!! Not in Sri Lanka, Cause ‘Appachche’!!! Instead of CRUCFYING him w/o ‘whimper’, voted him back to Power!!!??? So, He’s Re-elected!!?? Scumbags - Voters to Blame for Malaise!!????

    Headhunter cannibalising our medical system Thursday, 14 September 2023 12:00 PM

    Government must use security to block the head hunter. If they can't make their lucrative offers, then the specialists will never know. Keeping the specialists in the dark, will allow us to retain them.

    Ram Thursday, 14 September 2023 12:02 PM

    With the present existing rules beyond control. New rules are a must when giving intern ship and employment later to place them on bonds to make it difficult for them to leave. Alternately after ALs before admission to Uni they must be asked to work for minimum of 10 years and bonded

    Ram Thursday, 14 September 2023 12:02 PM

    With the present existing rules beyond control. New rules are a must when giving intern ship and employment later to place them on bonds to make it difficult for them to leave. Alternately after ALs before admission to Uni they must be asked to work for minimum of 10 years and bonded

    Prof. Janz Peterz Thursday, 14 September 2023 12:10 PM

    Ranil appoint a Doctor as our Health Minister, pay the Doctor's a salary matching the top Managers in the private firms, get down quality drugs and equipment for reasonable price where the poor man can afford to buy. Then all the Health Problems will get solved and expert doctor's will remain in SL and do their best.

    Dr. H.P.Attigalla - Specialist Thursday, 14 September 2023 12:11 PM

    If the present Health Minister is sacked or thrown out by the public - the Doctor's will continue to stay and serve, otherwise no choice.

    Dr. G.M.J. Attanayake Thursday, 14 September 2023 12:13 PM

    Doctor's salaries should be raised along with the other Hospital Staff rather than getting poor quality medicines from India and filling Rambukwella's pocket. Why Rail is keeping Rambukwella knowing pretty well that he is stealing.

    Dassanayake PBT Thursday, 14 September 2023 12:16 PM

    Kehliya Rambukwella you MUST STEP DOWN SOON and allow the doctors to remain and look after their patients. If not, for sure people are waiting to brutally murder you, I am not joking.

    Joseph Thursday, 14 September 2023 12:32 PM

    Just two days ago my sister was released from a Private hospital in Colombo after a 3 night stay as she displayed symptoms of Phenomena . The consultant doctor ( a very famous one) charged LKR 415,000/= for ward rounds . Fortunately she had a foreign insurance cover, but had to pocket out 20% of it as the insurance cover was only 80% of doctor's fees. This how poor doctors are

    Dillon DP Friday, 15 September 2023 06:07 AM

    Yes true they are like vultures

    sas Thursday, 14 September 2023 12:46 PM

    A senior specialist earns a monthly income of only Rs 201,000 after all deductions and a junior specialist is paid a mere Rs 128,500. What a pity situation. Look at the salaries of some administrative service people. Some SLAS officers earn about Rs.175,000 monthly. These SLAS people do not do productive work. They only do some paper work. That is all. Needless to say why Srilanka is not progressing.

    CDS Thursday, 14 September 2023 12:47 PM

    Paying taxes at 36% in SL, vs paying 40% or more in a developed country has value for money. With the 36% taxes a professional pays (at the highest bracket) can he send his kid to local universities with ragging and JVP led strikes and closures? Can they even hope to think that if his kid doesnt get chosen to local universities that he can enroll them in a pvt university (which is blocked by the JVP)? Can you send a kid to public school in Sri Lanka and expect them to learn the new subjects such as AI, Climate Change etc when these subjects cant be taught in sinhala/tamil, and there are very few teachers proficient in teaching any subject for that matter in english (which is the language of living in a modern world)? Can a professional leave his car behind and get on a subway / comfortable train to commute in Sri Lanka? When a professional pays 36% here, in addition to the 36%, he has to pay for things he would not have paid in a developed country therefore gaining better value

    Anything wrong in studying? Thursday, 14 September 2023 12:54 PM

    Do we have to accuse only doctors for studying with public funds? Is it a crime to study? Every student does it, because it is given to all students. Students who are gifted with ability and determination pass out as doctors. Look at the sacrifice they make to reach that goal! So why blame them if they seek openings to market their talent? They cannot be asked to go out in sarong and rubber slippers! They have to maintain some standard in the society. So they need money. Anything wrong? They should be compensated for their untiring effort. Period.

    NightOwl Thursday, 14 September 2023 01:20 PM

    How many of those commented actually regularly go to government hospitals for their healthcare needs? These Dr work in very poor conditions and their work-life balance is long down the drain. Don't talk about the state tax money spent to educate them, please remember the same money and opportunity was available to you, while you failed miserably at the school levels. The tax money did not make them specialist doctors overnight it is their hard work also. they have served the system this long and most would have exhausted the bond period stipulated, As fellow Sri Lankans they are also entitled to seek better economic and living conditions elsewhere. Don't be the loser who criticized everything.

    Karalasingam Sivalingam Thursday, 14 September 2023 01:22 PM

    At one time we had a flood of Indian teachers in all our schools, similarly we can induct Indian doctors/specialists, nurses, to Mann our hospitals. For example Apollo hospital, now, named, Lanka hospital, had majority of Indian doctors and nurses, who performed an exemplary service, even today, many units of Lanka hospital manned by Indian doctors. No one is indispensable, lack of decision making is the issue at the moment.

    Kevin Thursday, 14 September 2023 01:31 PM

    Salaries are high but also expenses. You have to do everything in developed countries, no cushy life, just press the bell and the nurse arrives!

    Observer Thursday, 14 September 2023 01:41 PM

    The reason for Specialists and other Doctors leaving the country are not merely the poor salaries. The untold reasons are the crooked Minister, Health Officials and the resultant Lack of Drugs and the poor quality of some of the available Drugs.

    Sam Thursday, 14 September 2023 04:16 PM

    Add to this list, ungrateful jealous people who always accuse doctors no matter what

    Jeanne Thursday, 14 September 2023 02:01 PM

    The Health system needs a complete overhaul. Starting with the rubbish Health Minister. There's a saying that the fish rots from the head. And the rot is spreading thick and fast. Firstly, we need to place a caveat on the free education that's enjoyed by these students. Serve a mandatory 3 years before they even think of working overseas. Secondly, and more importantly pay them a decent wage, civilised working conditions and a contribution towards their living expenses. No one likes to leave their families and friends behind - they only reason they do so is because Sri Lanka refuses to pay their workers, not only doctors, a decent wage.

    Jeanne Thursday, 14 September 2023 02:05 PM

    @Joseph : I'm glad that your sister is ok. However, your comment is irrelevant to this forum. We are discussing the plight of doctors practising in the public health system predominantly. Doctors in Private hospitals are quite comfortable, thank you very much. Plus, your sister had "foreign health cover" and therefore visited a Private hospital so, not quite sure what you're complaining about.

    SL=Free Doctor producer for Aus Thursday, 14 September 2023 02:19 PM

    Rich country like Australia with gold,mineral mines ask their free educated doctors to pay back (deduct from salary)close to $ 3000 per year from intern year onwards to cover the cost. Poor Sri Lanka with burrowed money world don't deduct even a cent from their free educated doctors,who in return migrate and serve lucky Australia and and NHS-united Kingdom...Sri Lanka acting like "wessanthara" producing free doctors to Australia and UK..what a dumb country

    Joker Thursday, 14 September 2023 02:25 PM

    Don't worry our honourable health minister will import low quality doctors to issue low quality medicine.

    KP Thursday, 14 September 2023 02:35 PM

    It took the ministry and the public long enough to realize that doctor bashing in the media, guilt tripping and threats are not going to intimidate doctors into slaving for a pittance. In an international job market, if you want to retain a service, you have to pay a competitive fee. Simple.

    Educated person deserves a better life Thursday, 14 September 2023 04:21 PM

    Rather in Australia, our specialists who recently migrated earn 7.5 million converted to rupees per month including tax, so why to stay with jealous and hateful people who mutter free education, private practice, etc

    Karalasingam Sivalingam Thursday, 14 September 2023 04:54 PM

    Appoint Dayana Gamage as the Minister of Health, she will perform well, she has the ability to face new challenges. Government cannot pay higher salaries to one category only, since government coffers are empty, if you pay one category, the rest of the work force would start agitating for Higher salaries, patriotism is necessary , specialists earn a lot via private practice, doctors in Sri Lanka lead a comfortable life, I know there are some specialists demand 4 to 5 million for a life saving operation, money has to be paid in advance, just realise whether, this is fair? This exposure proves, specialists and doctors lead a comfortable life " there is everything for their needs and not for their greed" .

    Tissa Fernando Thursday, 14 September 2023 05:14 PM

    There are enough youngsters who want to be Doctors but they do not get selected to Government Medical colleges and do not have have enough money to pay for foreign medical colleges. The best way to solve this issue is to establish many private , public partnership medical schools in each province and offer long term interest free loans to cover tuition. If they migrate then they should be asked to pay back the loan with interest within 2 to 3 years max. Many will remain in Sri Lanka too. But will JVP and GMOA allow this to happen, there will be many paid protests against this kind of solutions.

    Shee Lankan Thursday, 14 September 2023 05:36 PM

    It cost the taxpayer in SL a substantial amount to produce a doctor. From birth to becoming a qualified medical professional. This cost is many fold higher in foreign countries. The western countries are getting our doctors without cost. Where as if they produce their own doctors they will incur much higher cost. We grow the plant until harvest time and other nations take the harvest.

    SSZKHAN Thursday, 14 September 2023 08:21 PM

    Thus shows another selfish and unpatriotic attitude of our doctors and the stupidity if the rulers to stop thus braindrain. Atheist the doctors who graduated from the local medical colleges should show gratitude to the people and the country for making them doctors without any payments from their pockets....These ungrateful fellows must be punished by confiscating their property. The unhealthy minister of health should resign immediately.. .SSZ KHAN

    Jude Thursday, 14 September 2023 11:14 PM

    They get the Education on public dime and then they go and work for $$$, £££

    Jude Thursday, 14 September 2023 11:20 PM

    As usual government avoiding the blame!! All doctors studied on public dime must enter into a Bond where the Doctors must serve in SL for like 15 or 20 years!! Coz at the moment Doctors are not bonded not mandatory to work in SL!!

    Gt Thursday, 14 September 2023 11:21 PM

    Why would they stay in sl, where rule of law only exists for the poor man, their kids even if we'll educated won't have same opportunities as an incompetent politicians kids or they need connections to get good jobs, many countries offer citizenship to migrating professionals especially doctors, even their family members can get citizenship, why stay in a country ruled by thieves and murderers, my whole family got citizenship In uk ages ago because my grandfather was a doctor, sl is doomed due to politicians and spineless judges, if everyone had the opportunity to leave they would, politicians have ruined the country to a point where there is no future for common man, only for politicians and their kids/ friends, the exact opposite what a politician should be, politicians are there to make the country prosper, Make peoples lives better, but our politicians just want to Rob the country and its people, shame on all in power

    Dr Waidyaratne Friday, 15 September 2023 12:21 AM

    There is a wrong belief that specialist earn a lot of money by private practice, this is only about 10-15 percent of specialist, the others dont have private practice/or dont want to do private practice. There are about 10% who may earn about 4-5 million a month , but others do not have that possibility.

    Mura Raja Friday, 15 September 2023 01:41 AM

    After read above comments, I like to give some feedback to my fellow readers. 1- All the citizens studied with public money, if all the citizens ready to pay back their cost for their education we can ask money from doctors also. 2- For whole 24 millions population only 15000 doctors and less than 3000 specialists. Why can’t give a proper wages to doctors??? 3- Doctors are not migrating for money, for good quality of life. I personally know some specialists who earned more than 5 millions in a month also migrated because of their kids and their studies and peace of mind 5- How many specialists earns in Millions in private practice?? Less than 500 only. If you want go and analyse. 6- Not only doctors, nurses, para medical staff, engineers accountants bank managers teachers etc etc all the categories migrating, one day only poor and politicians are left. I personally knew some doctors went to UK and working as care workers 10 pounds per hour. Why??? Think about it

    Sunil Friday, 15 September 2023 05:11 AM

    Doctors salaries should not be raised if they are doing private practice and are on the payroll of pharmaceutical companies giving them foreign trips local holidays in resorts Most doctors are corrupt and they come late to government hospitals

    Dillon DP Friday, 15 September 2023 06:05 AM

    Well the public seems the doctors in this country as theives who steal a person's money including their lives

    Kasun Saturday, 16 September 2023 06:50 AM

    Yes, people with inferiority complex and jealousy think like that because they couldn't reach to the top

    Cecil Hedwige Friday, 15 September 2023 08:45 AM

    Food prices are cheaper in Australia than in SL. Ex. The present cost of chicken and milk and is much cheaper in Aussie. So cost of living is cheap except foe housing which is much more expensive

    Terrence K Friday, 15 September 2023 09:11 AM

    What an incompetent government who had many opportunities to correct the anomalies of these professionals but were not genuine enough to go that extra mile in a crisis driven country but capitalize in giving them empty promises and now the authorities are lamenting the exodus of all categories of the medical field lost to other countries striking their breasts "MEA CULPA MEA CULPA MEA MAXIMA CULPA" and the reply of these professionals courtesy Madonna is DON'T CRY FOR US SRI LANKA SINCE WE KEPT OUR PROMISES BUT THE GOVERNMENT DISTANCED US'

    Dr. K.R. Thillakaratne Friday, 15 September 2023 09:28 AM

    Now Kehliya Rambukwella will bring down doctors from India on commission basis. This is his plan now.

    Dr. R.J. Ramanathan - (eye specialist) Friday, 15 September 2023 09:32 AM

    Who will remain if the foreign countries pay a thumping salary? The nasty Health Ministry and the Health Minister should know the value of our prestigious doctors. Doctor's salary should be increased reasonably comparing to other countries.

    Do Doo Dooo Chin Friday, 15 September 2023 09:35 AM

    What is our President doing? He has no control over the Cabinet ministers, and they take their own decisions and act against the public. Bandula is trying to get down Pilots from India and Kehliya is trying to bring doctors from India. What is going on?

    Milton PPR Friday, 15 September 2023 09:37 AM

    The entire nation should come to the street and protest against Ranil and his nasty robbers (SLPP nutties) whom are trying to destroy our nation. We need another Aragalaya.

    Premalal Perera Friday, 15 September 2023 09:51 AM

    For 75 years migration of professionals were well manageable. Even then there was a marked disparity in wage levels. Now however it is worse when people's freedoms are taken away at the point of a gun. Fairness had disappeared life has become unbearable. Whereas a student has to burn midnight oil to get through our university system and what await them when they get to society? All this when politicians who have zero effort can earn a pension for life in 5 years. A politician who cannot muster 10,000 votes from Colombo ahas amended to the Presidency of the nation. Is it worth living here?

    Dr Kanishka de Silva Saturday, 16 September 2023 06:41 PM

    Most of young doctors are leaving not merely due to low Salary

    Alpha Monday, 18 September 2023 05:04 PM

    The whole country is talking about doctors and university lecturers. What about the others - engineers, accountants, lawyers, businessmen, IT personnel, bank managers and every other person in the street. They all want to get out of this mess of a country, where nothing good happens to the average citizen. There is no accountability and no law and order. And everywhere there is a square plug in a round hole - whether it be Ministers, MPs, Ministry Secretaries, Department Heads etc. etc. Until we have sanity in governance, everybody will keep running away. It is not salaries. It is the rotten system.

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