The Czech government has agreed to deploy 30 army doctors in Slovak hospitals after more than a thousand local doctors resigned over low pay.
Prime Minister Petr Necas says they could stay for 60 days. Defense Minister Alexandr Vondra said Friday they will be deployed over the weekend.
The Slovak government has asked neighboring countries to send help after 1,200 doctors of some 7,000 in state-run hospitals left their jobs Thursday.
The Health Ministry also said other neighbors, including Austria, Hungary and Poland have offered to treat Slovak patients in their hospitals located near the border, if necessary.Reuters adds that no matter how many doctors from nearby countries assist Slovakia, the problem must be addressed by the government and the union.
Around one fifth of country's 7,000 doctors did not show up for work, according to Slovak media, in a protest that mirrors industrial action in recent years in the Czech Republic and Hungary, where doctors have also long campaigned to bring their wages closer to west European standards.
Euro zone member Slovakia introduced a state of emergency at 15 selected hospitals this week -- forcing staff to show up under threat of penalties -- after doctors rejected an offer to raise their monthly salaries by 300 euros ($400).
The average monthly pay for doctors in Slovakia is around 1,500 euros, according to data from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.
One wonders if the Hippocratic Oath appears a but hypocritical at this point. Is the public's health being served by this action? Couldn't the doctors have organized a kind-of rolling walkout, in which significant numbers walked out at selected times but were replaced by previous strikers?
"The result (of the government's stance) is a critical situation in Slovakia's hospitals," Marian Kollar, head of the doctors' unions told reporters on Thursday.