An operating room | Photo: ARCHIVE/ANSA
An operating room | Photo: ARCHIVE/ANSA

There is a high demand for foreign healthcare professionals in Italy, but they are often paid less than collective contracts stipulate, according to the head of an association representing foreign doctors.

Foreign doctors and other healthcare professionals are being sought out in Italy to compensate for Italian retirees, according to AMSI, an association representing foreign doctors in Italy. 

AMSI chief Foad Aodi said that since January 1, 2018, AMSI had received requests for a total of 6,000 healthcare professionals - 3,000 doctors, 2,600 nurses, and 400 physiotherapists.  

Underpaid foreign professionals

Inspite of this, many foreign professionals working for private healthcare facilities are underpaid or paid late, according to Aodi. 

"Around 70 doctors have turned to AMSI since January 2019, reporting situations of underpaid work," Aodi said, "as well as about 50 nurses of foreign origin."

Some doctors earn just 7 euros an hour, according to ASMI. The minimum wage stipulated by many collective contracts is around 18 euros per hour. Foreign nurses are reportedly sometimes paid only 5 euros per hour. 

"[This] must be fought against, because it is an offense against basic dignity. There are no workers of Class A and Class B," Aodi said. 

"Among the reasons given by private facilities is the economic crisis, due to which the facilities say they cannot pay the amount in the union contract. But many times absurd justifications are given," the ASMI chief said.   

'An offense against basic dignity'

Aodi said that because of low pay and short-term contracts, many doctors refused to accept offers. "Against the 3,000 requests for foreign doctors that AMSI received in a year, only 20 to 25 percent resulted in hirings." He explained that this percentage was so low "due to offers where the wages were too low, as well as the fact that [...] most of the time, the contracts are for a short period only.''

The situation, he said, "is pushing many foreign doctors to ask to go back to their home countries."

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