Polish health minister strikes deal with young doctors
PR dla Zagranicy
Poland’s health minister on Thursday said he had reached an agreement with young doctors dissatisfied with pay and work conditions and demanding higher health spending.
Health Minister Łukasz Szumowski gives a news conference in Warsaw on Thursday after reaching an agreement with resident doctors. Photo: PAP/Tomasz Gzell
"After long and difficult talks, we have managed to work out a compromise,” Łukasz Szumowski said.
Many resident doctors have in recent weeks cut back their working hours, withdrawing from voluntary declarations they previously signed that allowed them to work more than 48 hours a week.
The move meant some hospitals and health centres were hit by staffing problems, according to reports.
Poland’s previous health minister, Konstanty Radziwiłł, who lost his job in a sweeping Cabinet reshuffle in early January, had warned that patient safety could be jeopardised by doctors limiting their working time.
Under the deal made on Thursday, the government agreed to increase healthcare expenditure at a faster rate than it originally planned, Polish Radio’s IAR news agency reported.
Healthcare expenditure in the country will grow to 6 percent of GDP by 2024 rather than 2025, IAR said.
Under plans given the green light by the government and then approved by parliament in November, health spending in Poland was to increase steadily from 4.67 percent of GDP this year to 4.86 percent in 2019, 5.03 percent in 2020, 5.22 percent in 2021, 5.41 percent in 2022, 5.6 percent in 2023, and 5.8 percent in 2024.
Under the deal secured by Szumowski, the government will offer special pay incentives to resident doctors who undertake to work in the domestic health service for at least two years after acquiring their medical specialties, according to IAR.
Polish resident doctors in late October ended an almost month-long hunger strike over health spending and pay, but warned they were ready to resort to other, "harsher" forms of protest in the future.