Health Service Crisis: The Headbutting Continues

Attempts by the government and health minister Ivan Uhliarik to resuscitate talks with doctors’ trade union LOZ have failed and now the government is making tactical plans to deal with the impending crisis in hospitals

The future of hospital wards? (c) Roman Whuke

Following a last round of talks, acting PM Iveta Radicova said on Saturday that she would not be holding further talks with the trade union, referring to how the government had done all it could to resolve the dispute.

Last week President Ivan Gasparovic said he would call a state of emergency if necessary, as this would force doctors to work whether they liked it or not. This is a last resort solution, though, and one which does not have widespread support.

In the hope that some of the 2,300 or so doctors will retract their notices as part of a mass resignation (by Wednesday 30 November), health minister Ivan Uhliarik was given the order by the PM yesterday to push through a speedy two-phase EUR 300 hike in salaries for doctors who show up for work on 1 December. An addendum to their employment contracts has been prepared and will be distributed today.

If enough doctors decide to accept the salary hike and the other conditions of the final Memorandum put forward by the government, the Ministry of Health will implement crisis measures in affected hospitals and pull in extra doctors from the military and abroad to fill the gap.

This would mean the closure and merger of some wards, setting up special patient hotlines and speeding of the applications of doctors from abroad wanting to work here, for instance. The government hopes the health service will be able to manage without the departing doctors, if around 20% of them decide to do a U-turn on their notices.

A state of emergency would force all doctors to work, even if their notice period has expired. If they refuse to work, they will be fined EUR 330, and the Ministry would also inspect phantom cases of sick-leave. LOZ has not yet stated what it, or rather doctors, would do if a state of emergency were declared.

If the doctors hold strong and the scope of healthcare is insufficient, a state of emergency might be the only way out of the stalemate with doctors union LOZ. In a passionate open letter to all doctors today, LOZ chairman Marian Kollar is calling on doctors not to “sell out for EUR 300”, inciting them to be strong and stand united as “victory is near”.


  1. The health service in Slovakia is a kaleidoscope reflection of the social disparities that manifests itself in a society struggling to adapt to capitalism and perceived individual standing therein.
    Traditionally Slovak people have recognised the true value of of doctors and have been willing to contribute to their salaries. Of course, it’s not right, but then neither is paying a doctor a pittance of a salary recognition of an unsurpassed level of education, training and commitment either.
    Ironically when politicians awarded themselves a meager 300 euro bonus payment, no one commented on this site. Sorry chaps, but next time you are seriously ill or injured, call for one of those excessively overpaid, over priviliged politicians .

  2. Doctors as wise, very important people for everyone should earn a lot of money to concentrate on their very important job for patients. Each well developed community knows it very well… Hmmm… I doubt whether post-communist communities in Eastern Europe can even understand it… I see. More and more Slovak wise and well trained doctors will come to treat patients in Western Europe soon, I am sure now.
    Thank you and good luck for Slovak doctors! 🙂

  3. First of all sorry for my bad english, but I must react to this because it really sucks! The “boss” of the slovak doctors, Mr.Kollar, told at the beginning that this strike is not about salary, but now, when they get an offer from the goverment for 300,- € plus it is too low for them. There is a lot of whole families which must live from 300 Euros per month. The situation in the health service is really terrible, if you want that the doctor serves you “nice”, you must pay some extra money to his pocket. My mother (70) was on 5 operations in the last 15 years, everytime she must pay inducements but all 5 operations were a fail!!! The health service is after the justice the second worst region belonging to bribery….A very interesting fact is that the doctors are crying that nobody is interested in this situation for more than 20 years, why they are striking now when whole Europe is in crisis??? I personaly think that this is criminal what they are doing…thousands of people in Slovakia have a low salary, should now go firemen, policemen, teachers, bakers…..into strike?

  4. The salary is only one problem. The government is trying to sell all public hospitals to one finance group named Penta. The working conditions in public hospitals are long-term very poor, cash flow of all health insurance companies (mostly private) is not transparent and absolutely inadequate. These problems are long-term and haven’t been solved by government for more than 20 years!!! All our attempts of strike since 1990 to this date were ignored and forbidden!

  5. Dr Suca , with the greatest respect not only is this not the whole story now is it?

    The younger, starting doctors may do lots of cover hours , but the for experienced ones , it is almost come and go as you please ….the golf day, the seminar day, the hunting day , etc , etc ….Firstly , if you dont like a jobs pay, you leave the job . Second , whenever I have known people to go to a Hospital in Slovakia , there is always the needed Doctor Bribe …Two friends of mine had a child …it cost them 200 euro . This was paid to the doctor directly , no receipt was given …it was so he took care of them all during the birth . Ten kids a day ie . 2000 euro a day !. Oh then there is the gifts, …the side of pig, the chicken, the jars of something … or clock or watch or the wine from the Pharmaceutical Company …for using there drugs etc .

    Smell the coffee guys …..greedy, greedy !


  6. For Explanation: The average salary of slovak doktor is 1000 Euro brutto /1350 USD/ for month, with every over time work, whis is about 100 Hours per month it is about 1700 Euro /2295 USD/ for month. The slovak doktor earns about 5,5 Euro /7,45 USD/ per one hour. The doctors, whose resigned from public hospitals want payment 6,5 Euro /8,775 USD/ per hour for doctor after university without specialization, and 11 Euro /14,85 USD/ per hour for doctor with specialization /anesteziologist, surgeon, pediatrics, a others/ after more than 15 years practice.
    This this requirements are huge problem for slovak goverment…… I think, that this situation dont need commentary ….. With regards MUDr. Šuca from central europe -Slovak Republik.

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