Polish doctors, health minister still at loggerheads
PR dla Zagranicy
Polish Health Minister Konstanty Radziwiłł and a group of resident doctors have failed to arrive at an agreement amid an ongoing protest over healthcare spending, pay and conditions.
Jarosław Biliński, the deputy head of the OZZL doctors' union which is leading the protest, said he was disappointed by the meeting, adding that Radziwiłł was “unprepared” and “had nothing to offer”.
Radziwiłł said he had proposals to satisfy both doctors and patients, including increasing health care spending to 6 percent of GDP by 2025, but “the resident doctors said that if we cannot agree in terms of money then there is nothing to talk about.”
He added that he would “probably” hold another meeting with the protesting doctors soon.
Resident doctors held a nearly month-long hunger strike last October, demanding a healthcare spending hike to 6.8 percent of GDP by 2021, less red tape, shorter hospital waiting lists and better pay and conditions.
Polish healthcare spending is currently just below 5 percent of GDP, while the World Health Organisation recommends 6 percent.
Resident doctors also wanted a pay rise to PLN 9,200 (EUR 2,200) gross each month, about double the national average gross wage, claiming that they earned some PLN 2,200-2,500 net, or about PLN 3,000 gross, and were working 80-100 hours each week.
They ended their hunger strike after failed talks with then Prime Minister Beata Szydło and announced they would step up their protest by cancelling so-called opt-out deals which allowed them to work more than 48 hours a week.
According to the OZZL doctors' union, about 5,000 doctors have cancelled their opt-out deals, while the health ministry puts the figure at about 3,500 of the 88,000 physicians working in Poland's hospitals.
The health minister has said that the doctors' protest was not threatening patient care in Poland. (vb/pk)