Ukrainian medics still awaiting approval to work in Slovakia

Doctors have been waiting months to have their diplomas recognised.

Illustrative photo.Illustrative photo. (Source: TASR)

Dozens of Ukrainian doctors are waiting to have their diplomas recognised before they can start working in Slovakia.

The Health Ministry continues to require that the doctors return to Ukraine – a potentially dangerous journey – in order to obtain documentation confirming that their certificates to practise are legitimate. Some say they have been waiting for recognition of their diplomas for months, despite an acute shortage of some specialists – paediatricians in particular – within the Slovak health-care system. The accreditation process also involves significant fees, the Sme daily reports, citing the SITA newswire.

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"In addition to the fact that many Ukrainian doctors have limited opportunities to get their documents validated at home, it also costs them a lot of money. Ukrainian documents still need to be translated into Slovak, for which a sworn translation costing €50 to €100 is required," explained Alona Kurotová of the International Association of Doctors and Medical Professionals in Slovakia.

Abolishing such fees temporarily and getting rid of bureaucracy would help the foreign doctors, the association says.

Ongoing health-care personnel shortage

Slovak hospitals struggled to recruit foreign doctors even during the Covid-19 crisis. When the country’s health-care system buckled under record numbers of pandemic cases, the government moved to make it easier for foreigner workers to take jobs in Slovakia. But those measures are deemed insignificant by the association.

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Foreign doctors are being denied the opportunity to work despite the ongoing health-care personnel shortage that is still prevalent in Slovakia, especially in children’s care. As recently as December the Health Ministry appealed to parents via a Facebook post not to take their children to a paediatrician unless it is absolutely necessary.

Insufficient changes

Ukrainian pediatricians seem to be the most affected by the measures. The qualifications recognised in Ukraine vary compared to those in Slovakia, which complicates the process. The situation has improved slightly: paediatricians with Ukrainian diplomas were once disqualified out of hand; their applications are now being considered, albeit subject to the current delays.

As a result, many Ukrainians with a medical degree are working as medical interns instead of fully-fledged doctors for now.

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