Romania's prime minister has hiked doctors' and nurses' wages, among the lowest in Europe, by 25 percent after medics threatened to strike over low pay.

Victor Ponta approved the raise Wednesday, urging more reforms in the health system. He said: "If it were possible, I would have raised (salaries) by 100, 200, 300 percent, with all my heart."

The increase is effective Oct. 1.

Some 7,000 doctors have emigrated in the past four years. Salaries for doctors start at 1,600 lei ($402) a month, less than the average national wage of 1,860 lei ($467).

For years, doctors and nurses had depended on informal payments and gifts from patients, which were widely ignored, but a court recently ruled that it was illegal.