PRAGUE -- 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.
Originally, more than 2,000 doctors threatened to leave but some of them accepted an offer for a 300 Euro ($405) pay increase and withdrew resignations.
Earlier this week, Slovakia declared a state of emergency in more than a dozen hospitals. This means that doctors in the selected hospitals need to remain in their positions or pay a fine which, according to AFP, amounts to about 1,500 Euro.
Speaking after an emergency government meeting on Monday, Prime Minister Iveta Radicova said she agreed that the salaries were "inadequate" but said the government could not afford to increase its offer because of the debt crisis in Europe.
AFP reports that low wages have caused many Slovak and Czech doctors to move abroad.