STA, 4 April 2019 - Health Minister Aleš Šabeder has signed a decree that allows hiring up to 90 doctors from non-EU countries this year in order to deal with an acute shortage of general practitioners in Slovenia.
Šabeder announced the measure for the public broadcaster TV Slovenija and commercial broadcaster POP TV late last evening.
The ministry also sent to the Medical Chamber yesterday a proposal for speciality training for 49 trainee doctors this year, a "measure that will have an effect on the system only in a few years' time".
A favourable number of trainee doctors is also planned for 2020, but there will be fewer in 2023 and 2024.
He said these were the first short-term measures agreed in the meetings earlier this week with representatives of GPs and of the community health centres grappling with the most acute staff shortages.
The decree allowing hiring a total of 90 doctors from third countries adds 55 doctors to work in primary healthcare to the 35 doctors for which medical organisations expressed the need a while ago, explained the minister.
The ministry today submitted for public consultation until 11 April a proposal lifting the ceiling on doctor job offerings by 56 from the 35 posts determined in December, which will allow the import of 91 doctors from third countries. More than half (55) will be for GPs.
The minister also announced that further measures would follow to implement the agreed workload standards and norms and deal with the crisis which erupted after GPs started giving notices in protest at excessive workload.
FIDES, the trade union of doctors and dentists, announced that, on 1 June, all doctors would start sticking to the workload standards agreed in the collective bargaining agreement after the 2016 strike.
"It will be necessary to secure additional financing sources, and measures are also being taken in this direction," Šabeder said, indicating that these measures could be expected by June or July.
In response to FIDES's announcement of what is in effect a work-to-rule strike, the trade union of nurses said that, being members of medical teams, nurses "will work as much as doctors do".
The union's boss, Slavica Mencinger, told the STA today that a "major problem will be to ascertain who will be the one to turn away patients, to triage them and answer for the consequences".