Health Service Stalemate Continues With No Agreement

The battle continues between the Ministry of Health and over 2,000 doctors in the country who have handed in their resignations, as the latest proposal of the doctors trade union LOZ is rejected by health minister Ivan Uhliarik.

LP Hospital, Kosice - photo (c) Veronika Januskova

Through their trade union LOZ, on Friday doctors presented the minister with a Memorandum that proposed increasing the basic salary of doctors by an amount of between EUR 600 and EUR 1,300. Minister Uhliarik does not see this as feasible at all, referring to it as the path of Greece. Earlier last week Uhliarik had proposed a gradual increase in salaries by EUR 300.

Uhliarik is therefore demanding that doctors accept his EUR 300 proposal, which he deems fair and the maximum that can be offered given Slovakia’s current tight economic situation. The minister said that if trade union stewards refuse to sign his memorandum, then head of the union Marian Kollar would be responsible for the children and patients who suffer as a result of the mass departure of over 2,000 doctors from their jobs on 1 December.

So far doctors have had just one of their four demands met, i.e. a halt to the transformation of hospitals into joint stock companies. They are therefore still fighting for higher salaries, more money for the health service in general and that the provisions of the Labour Code be respected also in the health sector.

A meeting planned for Wednesday between the trade union LOZ, Prime Minister Iveta Radicova and health minister Uhliarik will have to produce some kind of outcome, with just one week left before Slovak hospitals start saying farewell to one third of all doctors in the country, naturally, with some serious implications.

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