EU may need rules to stop doctors emigrating: German minister

Published:Sunday, January 13, 2019
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FILE PHOTO: German Health Minister Jens Spahn speaks at a Christian Democratic Union party congress in Hamburg, Germany, December 7, 2018. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach/File Photo

VIENNA (Reuters) - The European Union should consider regulating to stop member states from poaching each other’s doctors and other professionals, German Health Minister Jens Spahn said.

Spahn, a conservative heavyweight among Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats who recently lost a contest to become the party’s leader, described a knock-on effect of countries attracting doctors from neighboring countries, as is the case with Switzerland taking in German physicians.

“I can understand them. Switzerland is a beautiful country. But what is clear is that there is a shortage of these professionals in Germany. And then Polish doctors work in our country, and in turn there is a shortage of them in Poland,” he told Swiss tabloid Blick am Sonntag.

“That cannot be right. We should therefore think about whether we need to create new regulations on the luring away of people with certain professions within the EU, and without fundamentally calling into question the freedom of movement within Europe,” he was quoted as saying.

Spahn added that there were currently such agreements within the World Health Organization that could serve as a model, but he did not spell out what those were or how they might be applied within the EU.

Asked if Germany might charge Switzerland, which is not an EU member state, for educating German doctors who then went to work there, he said: “No, that is not my plan.”

Reporting by Francois Murphy; Editing by Mark Heinrich

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