Prague, Nov 18 (CTK) – The incomes of Czech medical staff should grow more quickly if they are to be kept at home, which will require an increase in the state´s health insurance payments for children, students and pensioners, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka (Social Democrats, CSSD) said Wednesday.

Speaking at a national consultative meeting of hospital trade unions, he said there is no scope for abolishing hospitals.

Trade unions warn of a shortage of staff in medical facilities and warn of another wave of departures abroad and the consequent worsening of health care.

“Our neighbours are Austria and Germany, this is a big wage competition…We must persuade our partners in the government, which we have not yet succeeded to do, that the salaries in health care should go up more quickly,” Sobotka said.

Czech Doctors´ Chamber President Milan Kubek said the pay of Czech doctors amounts to one fifth of their German colleagues. In Slovakia, the salaries of nurses are to grow by several hundred euros, trade unionists said.

The state now pays 845 crowns per person per month. The sum is to rise to 870 crowns as from January. Employers, employees as well as the unemployed pay much more.

Health Minister Svatopluk Nemecek (CSSD) told journalists that he will again propose an increase in the sum. He said the government has embedded it in its policy statement.

The salaries in health care are to rise by 5 percent as from January, but trade unions ask a 10 percent increase for hospital staff.

They also complain about that remuneration in state and private facilities differs and that the pay of the employees of private hospitals is not being raised.

Sobotka also sees a solution in a reform of the medical staff´s education to better correspond to practical needs.

He said it is no longer possible to close down hospitals. “In the past years, the number of hospital beds was strongly reduced,” Sobotka said.

The trade unions demand the government to allocate three billion crowns to labour offices in support of new jobs in hospitals.

Dagmar Zitnikova, head of the health care trade unions, said this would allow the creation of more than 7500 posts for nurses and medical orderlies, which would improve the personnel situation in hospitals and employees would stop leaving them.