Swiss healthcare losing its German immigrant edge

The Swiss health service has traditionally relied on German specialists filling posts, but Switzerland may now have to look elsewhere to top up its doctor numbers. (SRF/

This content was published on February 27, 2015 minutes

A quota system that limits the setting up of new specialist practices in Switzerland seems to be putting the Germans off. The quotas were dropped in 2012 but have been reintroduced  by 18 cantons so far because of a storm of new applications from doctors applying to set up shop. 

In 2013, 2,740 specialist doctors received permission to open new practices, a third of whom were German. In 2014, only 1,031 licences were granted. The reduction was highest among Germans. 

At the same time, the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians in Germany is making a concerted effort to keep doctors at home, offering pay incentives and help with setting up practices. 

Switzerland started to allow doctors with EU diplomas to practice in Switzerland in 2002, in line with its bilateral accords. Out of the 1,769 foreign degrees the health office recognised in the first nine months of 2012, almost half were from German physicians.

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