Credit: Freepik

Doctors Agree To Almost CZK 10 Billion Pay Rise, Says Fiala

The doctors who have rejected working overtime will call off their protest when the offer presented by the prime minister is confirmed in writing. Credit: Freepik.

Prague, Dec 1 (CTK) – Prime Minister Petr Fiala (ODS) reached an agreement with dissatisfied Czech doctors yesterday, after offering them CZK 9.8 billion from the public health insurance for next year for pay rises for doctors and other healthcare personnel in hospitals, he said after talks with doctors’ union representatives.

This will be set out in an amendment to the directive on financial healthcare coverage, to make it binding for state and regional as well as municipal and private hospitals, he added.

According to Jan Prada, vice-president of the Czech Medical Chamber (CLK), the doctors who have rejected working overtime will call off their protest when the offer presented by the prime minister is confirmed in writing.

Fiala said the two sides had agreed to continue negotiations with representatives of trade unions, CLK, hospitals, health insurance companies and the Ministry of Health at the beginning of next week. They have to find the right technical mechanism to add the money to salaries and its distribution structure, he added.

Prada said that this was exactly what had prevented an agreement in previous negotiations with the Health Ministry.

The operation of hospitals in the Czech Republic was expected to be limited from 1 December due to fewer doctors being available for shifts.

“I would like to urge doctors to provide care for patients in the upcoming weekend days,” Prada said. However, for now he is not calling on doctors to go back on their withdrawal from overtime work. “This will only happen when we finally sign specific points in the coming days,” he added.

In an effort to have enough doctors for acute care, hospitals have been postponing scheduled surgeries and tests, but it is now unclear whether the original appointments will be valid.

“Surgeries are not scheduled and cancelled in hospitals overnight. Rather, it will mean that hospitals can start scheduling them again,” Prada said.

There are about 23,000 doctors working in hospitals in the Czech Republic, according to data from the Institute of Health Information and Statistics (UZIS). About 13,000 of them work afternoon and night shifts, and around 6,100 of these had rejected optional overtime work from December, CLK said.

Because of this, hospitals have planned operations in limited mode, depending on the number of doctors protesting. They have had to postpone scheduled surgeries and examinations, close some beds and operating theatres, and in some cases, even entire wards.

According to doctors’ representatives as well as hospitals, acute care should have been maintained, but waiting times may have increased.

The Health Ministry was planning a press conference on the December operation on Friday morning, but cancelled it after the agreement between the prime minister and the doctors was announced.

Fiala said many things had been agreed in previous meetings between the ministry and doctors, such as the changes to the Labour Code from January and adjustments to training conditions. The sticking point of negotiations was salaries. “I intervened in the negotiations at a moment when it became apparent that a solution was unlikely to be found by 1 December,” Fiala said.

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