Prague, Oct 5 (CTK) – The government wants to solve the lack of personnel in Czech hospitals by bringing doctors and nurses from Ukraine to the country, daily Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD) writes on Wednesday.

Dozens of Ukrainian doctors and nurses a month might start coming to work in the Czech Republic as of next year. The Health Ministry plans to submit a project simplifying the access to the Czech labour market for Ukrainian medical staff to the cabinet in early November.

“The project may be implemented as soon as it is approved,” the ministry’s spokesman Ladislav Sticha told MfD.

This project follows the example of a similar government programme for Ukrainian workers that was launched at the beginning of this year.

The Czech Doctors’ Chamber does not like the import of foreign doctors. “It is an act of absolute despair, such projects usually do not work. The Czech Republic is a gate to the EU for these foreigners,” its head Milan Kubek said.

He said Czech doctors should get higher salaries and have less overtime work.

Stanislav Fiala, head of the Association of Czech hospitals, said the main task is to stop Czech healthcare personnel from leaving hospitals and gain new Czech staff by improving their education.

Czech hospitals are currently seeking about one thousand doctors and several thousand nurses.

Prague-Na Bulovce hospital spokesman Martin Salek said the hospital needs about 20 doctors and 50 nurses. One out of seven of its present doctors are foreigners, mostly from Slovakia, but also from Ukraine and Russia, he said.

The Prague-Motol hospital needs to hire 90 new nurses.

The KKN company that operates the hospitals in Cheb and Karlovy Vary in western Bohemia employs 50 foreign doctors, including 20 from Ukraine.

“Our experience with them is good. If they want to work in the country, they also strive to learn the language,” KKN director Josef Marz told MfD.

Half of the 40 doctors that the KKN hired this year are foreigners and ten more doctors are still needed, he said.

The Health Ministry concluded that up to 2500 new doctors would be needed in Czech health care after 2020.

The lack of medical staff is likely to become critical after 2018 when many of the current doctors are expected to retire.

At present, nearly one out of four doctors is aged over 60. Moreover, a part of Czech doctors decide to work abroad – the Czech Doctors Chamber estimated that 440 of them left the country for this reason last year.

The chamber registers 41,700 active doctors in the Czech Republic, including 2560 foreigners, of whom Ukrainians form about 10 percent.

Within a government project called Regime Ukraine, about 80 Czech firms selected highly qualified employees in Ukraine, mostly from technical professions, and these firms applied for green cards for them. Seven months after the launch of the project, 91 green cards were issued, including for 17 nurses.

In August, the shortened regime was extended to also apply to medium-level qualifications, which means for example qualified labourers. Czech firms, such as the Skoda Auto car maker, the ArcelorMittal Ostrava steelworks and the Svitap textile company, have applied for about 600 green cards thanks to the extension so far.

According to the Labour Ministry, 42,000 Ukrainians had legal employment in the Czech Republic in 2015.