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Czech Republic is still one step ahead of us when it comes to foreign doctors

Analysts expect a coronavirus pandemic to peak in mid-July, and it makes sense to prepare for that. In March, however, it became clear that medical staff had not been provided with protection and that the Association of Slovak Hospitals had been warning of this since the beginning of March. We’ve run into a shortage of pharmacy fever drugs and even a lack of coronavirus hotlines... But how do we address the shortage of health workers?
But we’re doing very well, because we don’t have many cases compared to our neighbors. But you never know for sure and training is very important. We continue to buy artificial ventilators, but we have forgotten one thing, namely, the shortage of personnel. We are already short of more than 5,500 doctors and 10,000 to 15,000 nurses, and many of them are at risk of extinction because of their age. At least part of the solution to this problem can be found in foreign doctors who already live in Slovakia or may come from abroad, for example from countries where they have already done so or, conversely, have yet to do so. However, our laws do not allow them to do so. In the Czech Republic, the Chamber of Deputies adopted the act whose title speaks for itself: Law on Special Rules for the Exercise of the Medical Profession and Non-medical Medical Professions by Persons Trained in the StateNon-European Union member State for the 2020 epidemic emergency response. It is currently awaiting approval by the Senate. The Minister of Health of the Czech Republic does not refuse the assistance of foreign doctors, as evidenced by the fact that this law is a proposal of the Government. Such laws have been approved, for example, in Italy, Spain and Germany.

Compatibility of Czech legislation with EU regulations

Foreign doctors in Slovakia join the initiative "Unite and help Slovakia!" and offer their experience and qualifications completely free of charge. The main reason that their assistance has not yet been accepted by the Ministry of Health is the fear that it will violate EU law. For example, the proposed law in the Czech Republic is a time-limited measure adopted during an emergency and will be in force for a maximum of six months after its end. The EU Directive 2005/36/EC on the recognition of professional qualifications allows medical activities to be carried out without proper recognition of foreign training. However, the Czechs themselves had drawn up and referred directly to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, namely articles 36 and 114, on the grounds that the Act made an important contribution to the protection of human health and life and the health of the population on the territory of the Czech Republic. In this case it is also true that when a person is looking for a way out, he always finds it. In addition, as I mentioned, other EU countries have also adopted similar laws.

Laws for foreign doctors in the Czech Republic and statistics

In addition to the above-mentioned law allowing foreign specialists to practice medicine without recognition of their qualifications during an emergency, the Czech Republic offers other solutions that we can use to inspire. For example, special procedures were in place for highly qualified workers from Ukraine and India, who required consulates to receive their applications for residence on a priority basis, and introduced a fast-track procedure in the application process. They also have a developed model for the training of foreign doctors, which includes clear rules for the recognition of the education and qualifications of foreign doctors. They also have preparatory materials, which are textbooks with clear questions that can be applied in practice. The widely publicized case of a pediatrician from Donbass with 25 years of experience showed us that in the Czech Republic pediatricians' diplomas are recognized, which is impossible in Slovakia. Not only do the EU have general rules for the recognition of education for the medical profession, so it is not possible in Slovakia, but perhaps in the Czech Republic, and the average age of paediatricians in Slovakia is stunning 59 years. As a result, with a shortage of Czech doctors, 7.35% of foreign doctors in the Czech Republic and less than 3.5% of doctors in Slovakia and only 0.14% of nurses (44 foreign nurses in Slovakia). In the US, 25% of doctors and 6% of nurses, in England - almost 30% of doctors and 15.55% of nurses (OECD data).

Italian example

Not only the Czech Republic, but also Italy on 9 March drafted and approved a law that allowed them to benefit from the assistance of medical personnel from abroad. Ukrainian anesthesiologists recently returned from Italy as heroes. Nobody in Italy and did not think to refuse help from Ukraine, Poland or Albania.

The experience and concrete actions of other EU member states give us a good example of how to help Slovak doctors who are already working to the limit. You have to do what you want to do. The question is whether you want to do it.

Current articles by Alona Kurotova are also available at