Doctors from abroad are increasingly working in Berlin - in the four years from 2018 to 2021, more than 1,300 licenses to practice were issued to doctors with foreign training. This means that a third of all approvals were for men and women trained abroad, even if some of them are now working in other federal states.
This is according to a response by State Health Secretary Thomas Götz (Greens) to a question from FDP parliamentary group leader Sebastian Czaja, obtained in advance by the Tagesspiegel. In Berlin, the State Office for Health and Social Affairs (Lageso) is responsible for the recognition of foreign degrees.
While an average of 325 approvals per year were granted there recently, just 154 doctors from abroad had been recognized in 2011. Most of the doctors at that time came from Poland, Russia, and Greece. In the meantime, clinic managers report that there are still many Eastern Europeans, but also doctors from the Middle East.
Berlin's Medical Association, to which all of the city's 34,000 licensed physicians must belong, now lists nearly 2,200 colleagues working in Berlin who are foreign nationals.
Although the number of recognitions of foreign graduates has increased, there was clear criticism of the licensing board, especially during the pandemic. At the beginning of the corona crisis in March 2020, more than 1,000 foreign doctors were waiting in Berlin for recognition of their professional qualifications, some of them for years. Currently, 805 applications for recognition are being processed at the Lageso.
"There is an acute shortage of staff in medicine and nursing," said FDP parliamentary group leader Czaja. "Nevertheless, the Senate discourages well-trained professionals from working here because procedures for recognizing qualifications obtained abroad are too bureaucratic and take too long. There is an urgent need for action here."
Hundreds of nurses from abroad also want to be recognized in Berlin every year. The Lageso authorizes them to work in Germany as registered nurses in clinics, homes and outpatient services upon presentation of the required certificates. From 2018 to 2021, 1100 permits were issued. At the start of the pandemic, 1180 nurses were waiting for their degrees to be recognized; 560 applications are currently being processed. The staff shortage on the wards had been reported extensively during the corona crisis; in Berlin, nursing staff organized in Verdi went on strike for more colleagues at Vivantes hospitals and Charité.
Image by Sasin Tipchai