Slovak doctors in ‘state of emergency’

I would like to inform your readers that the Slovakian government has announced a state of emergency in the healthcare sector, forcing doctors who have resigned en masse out of dissatisfaction with their salaries to continue working.

They all gave to their employers two months’ notice and they were in dispute for a half year before that. So our government is lying about the lack of the time to find other doctors to cover those who are leaving.

Our Minister for Healthcare Mr Ivan Uhliarik has said that the government is experiencing tough economic times and cannot significantly increase their net salaries, which for a Registrar is €3.50 per hour and for a consultant €5 per hour. I am serious!

Over the past few days they offered them an increase of €150 per month after tax (€300 before) to come back to work, but still more than 1,800 doctors refused to sign this.

At time of writing, we have a state of emergency in our country because our doctors wanted to earn from €5.50 per hour for an SHO to €10 per hour for consultants. These are the rates that the doctors have been seeking from the Slovakian government. Now the state wants to use police to escort the hospital doctors back to work in the hospitals!

It is unacceptable in a EU country that basic human rights can be violated in such a manner. It is important that our Irish colleagues are aware of these violations of human rights of doctors in the Slovak Republic.

Mr Miroslav Blazek,

Slovakian married to a Slovakian doctor practising in Ireland.

Note from the Slovakian medical doctors’ labour union Lekárske odborové združenie (LOZ)
LOZ has declared four basic demands: a) strict compliance with maximum working hours in hospitals; b) transparent and just financing of hospitals by health insurance companies (including the introduction of the DRG system); c) cancellation of transformation of state-owned hospitals to public joint stock companies; and d) a guarantee of minimal wages of doctors.

The declaration supporting these four demands was signed by 3,800 out of 6,000 medical doctors working in hospitals in August 2011. However, no discussions were held until the doctors started collecting letters of resignation from work. Some 2,411 medical doctors put their resignation letters on the table, supported by others refusing extra work hours.

Although many have changed their minds or were persuaded to return to work, more than 1,200 of them kept on until December 1 and left hospitals and the healthcare system collapsing. Today, the government has declared a state of emergency and forced medical doctors to return to hospitals, using a law concerning large-scale disasters.
Dr Jozef Balaz.