An ambulance toured hospitals in December advising doctors on how to quit their jobs
Dozens of Czech hospitals could find themselves struggling to provide basic care on 1 March after almost 4,000 doctors – one quarter of the total number working in the country’s hospitals – tendered their resignations in protest at low wages.
The resignations are being co-ordinated by the doctors’ union (Lok), which says successive Czech governments have done nothing to improve doctors’ salaries since the fall of communism.
Peter Papp, 31, is an oncologist working at a hospital in Usti nad Labem, an industrial city about an hour’s drive north of Prague. He spent six years at medical school followed by three years on the cancer wards of two district hospitals.
With maximum overtime, Dr Papp’s gross salary is $1,165 (£750, 880 euros) per month, well below the national average.
After tax, health and social insurance payments, he takes home around $900 dollars, less than a car mechanic or waiter.
With rent in the Usti area at around $350 per month, he is left with slightly more than $500 to feed, clothe, transport and entertain himself. After devoting the last nine years of his life to medicine, Dr Papp has had enough.
“I’m not willing to work for the salary of a McDonald’s employee,” he told me, pointing out that he had made more money teaching English to pay his way through medical school.
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Dr Papp is one of 3,837 Czech doctors who have submitted formal letters of resignation to their hospital managers. On 1 March, he will be unemployed.
Read moreCzech Hospitals: Almost 4,000 Doctors Resign In Protest At Low Wages