While health workers across Europe have been fighting to defend their jobs and services, healthcare workers in Slovakia have been demanding an increased investment into the health service and are now threatening strike action if these funds are not forthcoming.
The government reaction, however, is not only unlikely to appease these concerns, but seems set to further ignite them. It seems certain that Slovakia will soon follow other European powers by imposing austerity measures on public spending.
Head of the state health insurer Vseobecna zdravotna poistovna, Marian Faktor, has stated that an “optimisation plan” might be ready for implementation as early as 1 July.
Although the full details are still unknown, on Tuesday health minister Ivan Uhliarik indicated at an HN-Club meeting that cuts in services will have to take place.
Last night Uhliarik announced that 150 departments are to be targeted for closure, with the full details to be revealed soon. This will see thousands of hospital beds cancelled, but he said the focus would be on “quality and not quantity”.
Health workers have already stated that they plan a 2-day strike if the government doesn’t guarantee extra funding by 15 June. Uhliarik’s comments and the optimisation plan are sure to form a large part of the discussions today at a multi-disciplinary meeting of health workers.
How the Slovak public will receive such tidings remains to be seen.