The Polish Chamber of Physicians and Dentists (Naczelna Izba Lekarska) acts as a self-governing professional association in Poland and, by virtue of the law, covers all physicians and dentists holding medical licences in this country. There are also a number of other medical associations, societies and trade unions for doctors.
The first Polish self-governing professional association of physicians - Collegium Medicorum Gedanensis - was established in the early 17th Century in Gdańsk to counteract the activities of folk healers and mountebanks. In 1921 the Sejm passed an Act establishing Chambers of Physicians and Dentists and the Polish Chamber of Physicians and Dentists was a significant consultative institution at that time.
The Chambers returned to work after World War 2, but professional corporations ceased to exist in 1952.
In the 1980s physicians began making efforts to re-establish a self-governing body. On 17 May 1989 the Act on Chambers of Physicians and Dentists was passed and the self-governing professional association of physicians was revived. In 2009 the Act was replaced by a new one prepared by the self-governing body.
The Self-Governing Professional Association of Doctors in Poland
At present, the professional self-government includes the Polish Chamber of Physicians and Dentists and the Regional Chambers.
The General Medical Assembly is the highest authority of the Polish Chamber of Physicians and Dentists. Its equivalent for the Regional Chambers is the Regional Medical Assembly. In the period between assemblies the Supreme Medical Council manages the organisation’s activities.
The Polish Chamber of Physicians and Dentists covers such institutions as the Ombudsman for Physicians, the Supreme Screener for Professional Liability, the Supreme Medical Court, the Centre for Professional Development of Physicians and Dentists, the Bioethics Centre, and the Qualifications Recognition Centre.
Other medical associations
Poland is home to a large number of scientific and professional medical associations for physicians, scientists and experts. Their activities include the organisation of scientific conferences, publishing and the dissemination of scientific knowledge.
Other institutions include the Federation of Polish Medical Societies – an organisation of Polish scientific medical societies – and other societies acting towards health promotion and social disease prevention. The Federation aims at integrating the activities of societies, initiating and promoting scientific, educational, and professional medical activities, disseminating knowledge in the field of health care and the medical sciences, and cooperating with similar organisations in this country and abroad.
The societies belonging to the Federation include the College of Family Physicians in Poland, the Polish Society of Surgical Oncology, the Polish Association of Laboratory Diagnostics, the Polish Society of Forensic Medicine and Criminology, the Polish Ophthalmological Society, the Polish Paediatric Society, and the Polish Nurses Association.
Some societies are not centred around a specific branch of medicine. One such interdisciplinary example is the Polish Medical Association – the oldest and largest association with more than 25 thousand physicians in various specialisations at 45 regional branches, 220 clubs and 24 specialist sections.
Trade unions and associations
The various organisations of physicians include trade unions, federations, and associations.
The most representative of these, e.g. in providing opinions on draft Acts in the field of healthcare, include the Doctors’ Trade Union of Poland, the Zielona Góra Agreement, and the Health Care Employers’ Association.