German hospitals get a Czech-up
By Nicole Klement and Pavla Horakova If you could move to Germany and get many times more money, wouldn't you? Czech doctors are in just that situation. Recruiting advertisements have been appearing with ever increasing frequency in Czech medical journals offering jobs to experienced Czech doctors. Radio Prague has more.
Doctors have long been among the lowest paid professionals in the Czech Republic. With doctors just out of university making much less than the average Czech salary in Czech hospitals it's no wonder that a German wage several times higher can be so very enticing.
The prospect of more money has made many doctors move and the trend seems to be westward. Even doctors in eastern Germany are moving to western Germany where the pay is better. This migration leaves a shortage of qualified staff in eastern Germany where clinics and hospitals have had to start recruiting doctors from abroad.
A thirty-three year old Prague doctor who is seriously considering leaving the country told the daily Mlada fronta Dnes he would leave only for economic reasons because otherwise he really likes the Czech Republic. He said that even with night shifts and a weekly 24 on-call his net wage is 14 000 Czech crowns and the only way it would increase would be with increased seniority. He went on to say that if German wages weren't so tempting he would stay home, in the Czech Republic.
On top of the westward migration it's been estimated by the German Medical Chamber that by the year 2010 there will be 40 percent less people entering the medical field and it seems that 50 percent of German medical students never end up going into practice. This may result in further recruiting in the Czech Republic.
Already the Czech Republic has started to feel the consequences of this trend. In the last year in the north Bohemian town of Ceska Lipa one third of the doctors left the hospital and the intensive care unit had to be closed down because it was short-staffed. And, there has long been chronic shortage of nurses at Prague's central medical center because many have left the country or have taken on another field of employment that pays more.
The president of the Czech medical chamber David Rath says that the irony lies in the fact that for a long time authorities said that the Czech Republic had a surplus of medical personnel. That is no longer the case- except maybe in Prague and Brno. The tables might soon turn if Czech doctors decide to go west en masse.