Health minister to create new task force amid doctors' protest
PR dla Zagranicy
A bylaw bringing to life a new task force to deal with the future of public healthcare is to be signed by the Polish health minister on Monday, amid an ongoing doctors’ hunger strike over pay and conditions.
Konstanty Radziwiłł. Photo: PAP/Jacek Turczyk.
The protesting doctors who started a hunger strike earlier this month have been invited to join the task force.
"I hope they join [the task force] to discuss how to practically implement the changes they demand," Health Minister Konstanty Radziwiłł said on Monday.
Among those demands is for at least 6.8 percent of GDP to be earmarked for health care spending – more than the World Health Organisation’s recommendation of six percent. Free public healthcare is a constitutional right in Poland.
Radziwiłł said the government aimed to increase spending, adding that 2017 would be a “record” year with more than 4.7 percent of GDP spent on healthcare, compared to between 3.5-4.5 percent in the past.
The health minister added that of the PLN 5 billion budget surplus, PLN 3 billion was spent on improving conditions for patients and providing extra healthcare services.
About 20 resident doctors have been conducting a hunger strike in the foyer of a paediatric hospital in Warsaw since October 2.
Their other demands include shorter hospital waiting lists, less red tape and better pay. They claim that they are overworked, that there is a doctors shortage in the country, and that young medics are leaving Poland for better pay and conditions abroad.
Before becoming health minister, Radziwiłł was a top official and a national doctors’ association. At that time he promised resident doctors double the national average wage and triple for specialists. The national average monthly wage is PLN 4,500 gross, while resident doctors claim to be earning between PLN 2,100 and 2,500 after tax each month, roughly PLN 3,000-3,500 gross. (vb)