The strikes are taking place in around 460 hospitals across the entire country, with the exception of Berlin and Hamburg.
“Scheduled operations will not be able to take place in most municipal hospitals today,” said Marburger Bund president Susanne Johna told Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland (RND) on Thursday. “We are of course maintaining emergency services in these hospitals that are on strike.”
According to Johna, staffing in these hospitals is likely to be similar to weekend levels.
The doctors are fighting for an improvement in their working conditions and hours, which they say have become worse throughout the pandemic.
“The working conditions in hospitals are so bad in some places that many doctors leave the hospital and, for example, set up their own practice or go to work as employees in a medical care centre,” Johna told RND.
In the struggle to find an acceptable work-life balance, many doctors in Germany are opting for “80 percent” contracts that allow them to work fewer hours, the Marburger Bund president claimed.
“This means that colleagues are giving up a chunk of their salary in order to be guaranteed at least one day off per week,” she said.
The pandemic has exacerbated tough conditions for doctors, in particular on intensive care wards, emergency wards and infection wards.
“In many intensive care units, patient care was recently only possible because doctors also took on nursing duties and worked even more overtime.”
The Marburger Bund is calling for approximately 55,000 doctors to receive a 5.5 percent pay rise over the course of a year, as well as strict upper limits on the number of times a doctors can be “on call” while not on duty. This should be capped at 12 per month, the association argues.
As a counter offer, employers have offered a pay rise of 3.3 percent in two stages.