Friday, 25 April 2014

Health care unions to support doctors' protest in March

22 February 2013

Prague, Feb 21 (CTK) - The Czech CMKOS umbrella trade union organisation and health care unions called on Health Minister Leos Heger to resign Thursday, saying his reform worsens the quality and availability of health care.

CMKOS chairman Jaroslav Zavadil and Dagmar Zitnikova, chairwoman of the Health and Social Care Trade Union, told journalists that the unions will support the protest action to be staged by the Czech Doctors' Chamber (CLK) on March 1.

On the day, doctors will only provide acute care. The unions will spread and sign a petition in support of their demands.

These include available quality care, a stop to the lowering of public spending on health care, unnecessarily expensive medicines and long trips to doctors' surgeries and hospitals.

"We want a functioning health care system to be preserved. It is not possible that spending on health care be lowest in Europe, which is also reflected in a lower number of surgeries performed. This is due to the minister who should resign," Zavadil said.

He said the whole health care system is threatened with devastation while Heger is behaving as if nothing were happening.

Zitnikova said people should take an interest in how health care is paid.

She said unions do not want more money, but they want the sums that have remained in the accounts of employee health insurance companies to be redistributed, the system of health insurance paid by the state for children, soldiers and pensioners to be more reasonable and a new, better medicines policy to be formulated.

Zitnikova said hospitals will lack hundreds of millions of crowns this year, they will not have money to pay their staff and they will have to dismiss people.

"We do not want the salaries of medical workers to be cut, we do not want the health care system to disintegrate. We will definitely start planning our own actions," Zitnikova said.

She said the situation in the health care system is the most critical since the fall of the communist regime in 1989.

Zitnikova recalled that the ministry wanted to close 32 out of 152 acute care hospitals last year.

"A wave of resistance has averted this. The ministry has now decided to ruin the hospitals financially," she said.

Zitnikova said health insurance companies' payments for care will decrease by up to 20 percent in real terms according to unions' calculations based on the ministry's payments decree.

The CLK has called on private physicians to close their surgeries on Friday next week and hospitals are only to treat acute patients.

The call has been joined by the Czech Doctors' Union (LOK) and the Association of Out-Patient Specialists.

The General Practitioners' Association has rejected any pressure, saying it prefers negotiations.

Heger praised their stand. "I believe that others will follow and that an overwhelming majority of doctors will be reasonable, will perceive the situation rationally, in a matter-of-fact way and that they know that no apocalyptical vision of trade unions or the doctors' chamber is being fulfilled," Heger said in a statement for CTK.

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