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Health minister proposes solutions to overtime work problem

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Prague, April 27 (CTK) – It is mainly up to hospital directors to solve the problem of excessive overtime work of doctors, Czech Health Minister Svatopluk Nemecek has told CTK, adding that he will contribute by preparing conditions for raising the number of hospital staff and their pay.
Nemecek (Social Democrats, CSSD) was reacting to the call by the Czech Doctors’ Trade Union (LOK) that he submit a solution to the overtime work problem by June 15.
The unions warn that if doctors observed the limit of 416 overtime work hours per doctor a year, as set by law, hospitals would soon run out of doctors to be put on duty.
At present, the official overtime work limit has been transgressed 2.5 times in Czech hospitals, the unions say.
They want to highlight the shortage of doctors and what they call untenable conditions in hospitals by a month-long protest in September of October.
For a whole month, they want to strictly observe the Czech as well as European directives on overtime work limits.
Nemecek said a solution to the problem is primarily an organisational matter to be settled by individual hospitals and their directors.
The ministry can do one thing only, which is a gradual increase in the number of the health personnel and their remuneration, Nemecek said, adding that the ministry has been pursuing this goal for some time now.
“In this respect, we have been struggling with the finance minister. In the days to come…we will propose an increase in the state health insurance payments to the government, as the [overtime work] problem cannot be solved without money,” Nemecek said.
He referred to the state public health insurance payments for certain groups of inhabitants such as children, pensioners, the disabled and the unemployed.
“I firmly believe that we will succeed and will be able to send a clear message to the medical staff that their pay will rise…as will the number of the hospital personnel,” Nemecek said.
He said he will ask the government to raise the insurance payments by a total of almost ten billion crowns next years. As a result, the pay in hospitals might rise by 10 percent.
The rise should apply not only to the state hospitals, where it will be ordered by the state. Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka (CSSD) recently said he wants to secure the pay increase also in the hospitals run by the self-rule regions.
Finance Minister Andrej Babis (ANO) has repeatedly refused to pour more money in the health sector, where, he said, money has been wasted and which contains “black holes” where large sums disappear.
If Babis rejected Nemecek’s proposals at a cabinet meeting, it would also be rejected by the other ministers for ANO, which has six ministers in the 17-seat centre-left cabinet.
($1=23.946 crowns)

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