German doctors fear unemployment

BMJ 1995; 310 doi: (Published 10 June 1995) Cite this as: BMJ 1995;310:1490

Dr Carsten Vilmar, the president of the German Chamber of Physicians, warned last week that 60000 doctors in Germany could be unemployed by 2000. He claimed that there were far too many medical students at German universities and warned school leavers not to apply to study medicine. “Students have to realise,” said Dr Vilmar, “that most of them will not find jobs in hospitals.” General practice is also overstaffed.

Dr Vilmar made his statement at the 98th annual meeting of delegates from all medical groups in Germany. The Arztetag (doctor's assembly) is the political mouthpiece of the country's 327000 doctors. The most important discussion was, again, on abortion laws. Delegates voted to oppose plans by the government to tighten legislation on abortions further.

Under the terms of the new bill doctors would have to counsel women on the legal aspects of getting an abortion and could be prosecuted for not discussing under what aspect of the law women were entitled to terminate their pregnancies. Before they visit a doctor women in Germany currently see someone—not usually a doctor—to discuss whether they are legally entitled to an abortion.

Delegates also expressed concern at euthanasia in the Netherlands. They said that “Although this development may be supported by humanitarian motives, the homicide of terminally ill people threatens to become a regular part of doctors' tasks.”—HELMUT L KARCHER, medical writer, Munich

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