Over 2,000 of Denmark’s doctors are foreign professionals

Almost one in five doctors in rural parts of Denmark was trained abroad. The Danish Medical Association has called for more stringent language requirements.

Over 2,000 of Denmark’s doctors are foreign professionals
File photo: Liselotte Sabroe/Ritzau Scanpix

Statistics Denmark (DST) figures show an increase in the number of doctors working in Denmark who qualified abroad, newspaper Jyllands-Posten reported on Friday.

A total of 2,100 foreign-trained doctors working at Danish hospitals and general practices in 2017 represents an increase of 300, or 19 percent, since 2010.

The Danish Medical Association’s chairperson Andreas Rudkjøbing said the figures show the Danish health sector’s increasing need to recruit specialist medics.

“This reflects that it has not been possible to meet our needs with (Danish)-trained doctors, which has thereby made it necessary to fill vacancies with foreign-trained doctors. The Danish health system is completely dependent upon our foreign colleagues,” Rudkjøbing told Jyllands-Posten.

According to the DST analysis, 18 percent of hospital doctors and GPs in rural municipalities were foreign nationals who took their qualifications outside of Denmark. The national average was somewhat lower at 9 percent.

Rudkjøbing said the key consideration is quality of service, rather than the proportion of foreign doctors.

“The gauge is delivery of high quality treatment and high patient safety,” he said.

The most common nationality for the foreign-trained doctors is German (247 doctors) followed by Polish (219), then Iraqi (163), Lithuanian (156) and Russian (109).

The top 10 includes three non-European countries: Afghanistan and Iran in addition to Iraq. Hungary, Romania and Norway complete the top ten.

Current rules require doctors trained outside of Nordic countries and the EU to pass a series of courses in order to be granted authorization to practice medicine in Denmark. These include Danish language tests as well as tests relating to medical knowledge and Danish medical law.

Doctors who studied in the EU or the Nordic region are exempted from these courses and are able to gain authorization largely automatically under EU law, the Danish Patient Safety Authority states on its website.

That means individual employers – the health authorities known as Regions, in the case of public hospitals – are responsible for assessing the linguistic skills of medics before hiring them.

Rudkjøbing told Jyllands-Posten he is in favour of Danish language tests also applying to EU-trained doctors.

“You can end up in a situation in which a doctor is employed without having the necessary linguistic competencies to carry out the role. We have asked the minister for health, and parliament, to tighten the rules so we don’t end in such a situation,” he said.

The Social Democrats, Danish People’s Party and Red Green Alliance – who each represent different parts of the political spectrum – all said prior to June’s general election that they would support such a measure.

READ ALSO: Foreign doctors must meet Danish language standards: minister

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New Year’s Eve injury rate bounces back to normal in Denmark

The number of people treated for fireworks-related injuries on New Year's Eve in Denmark has bounced back to normal levels, with 16 people treated for eye injuries after the celebrations.

New Year's Eve injury rate bounces back to normal in Denmark
Fireworks led to 16 eye injuries on New Year's Eve. Photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

This is up from the unusually low 12 people who were treated for eye injuries during and after the celebrations last year. Two of this year’s injuries are sufficiently severe that the injured are expected to lose their sight completely or partially.

“After a very quiet evening last year, it is back to a normal, average level,” Ulrik Correll Christensen, head doctor at the ophthalmology department at Rigshospitalet, told the country’s Ritzau newswire. “It is a completely extraordinary situation at the eye departments on New Year’s Eve. It is not at all something we see on a daily basis.” 

Christensen has tallied up reports from all of Denmark’s eye units, including the major ones in Copenhagen, Aalborg, Aarhus, Odense and Næstved. 

He said that 15 out of the 16 cases had not worn safety goggles, two thirds were between ten and thirty years old. 

“The most important thing is to follow the advice when firing fireworks. Wear safety goggles and keep a good distance,” he said. 

The number of ambulance call outs on New Year’s Eve is also back to normal, with 1,188 emergency vehicles sent out, compared to 875 last year. 

In the Capital Region of Copenhagen, there were 44 call-outs were related to fireworks, of which 16 were for hand injuries and 14 for eye injuries.