Wards in some hospitals have between 70-100% of doctors protesting. Credit: St. Anne’s University Hospital.

Hundreds of Hospital Operations To Be Postponed From December, Says Medical Chamber

More than 6,100 doctors have rejected overtime work in December, the Czech Medical Chamber’s (CLK) Junior Doctors Section told reporters yesterday, meaning hundreds of operations and thousands of outpatient visits from 1 December onwards will be postponed. The doctors said hospitals will primarily focus on preserving emergency care. 

Some wards in both larger and smaller hospitals have between 70-100% of doctors protesting, said Monika Hilserova of the CLK section.

Health Minister Vlastimil Valek (TOP 09) will meet the protesting doctors on Tuesday to present his proposals for increasing basic salaries and calculating the payrolls of healthcare workers.

CLK Vice-President Jan Prada said the teaching hospitals in Prague, in Krc and Motol, as well as in Hradec Kralove and Jihlava, will have a significantly reduced operation.

According to the doctors, mainly planned, elective care will be affected from the beginning of December. “Acute operations will be very limited in terms of waiting times as well,” said Prada.

According to Hilserova, hospitals had to plan the doctors’ working schedules for December by today. She said the schedules were very tight. “If one doctor or their child gets sick, the whole system will have to be overhauled and urgent care will not be provided,” she explained.

“The action is neither a protest nor a threat, it is merely following the Labour Code,” Prada added.

The protest from doctors was prompted by a change to the recently amended Labour Code, that doubled the maximum possible number of voluntary overtime hours from the previous 416 to 832 hours a year, and abolished uninterrupted 24-hour shifts in hospitals.

However, the form of the protest shows that the declared voluntary nature of overtime work in the healthcare sector is not really accurate, Prada pointed out.

According to Prada, Valek is responsible for the current situation, as his proposals to address the doctors’ demands are considered insufficient.

CLK representatives, together with healthcare sector unions, will meet Valek again on Tuesday afternoon.

While the requested changes to the Labour Code were resolved at previous meetings with representatives of the Labour and Social Affairs Ministry and the Health Ministry, the ministries and the protesting doctors have not yet reached consensus on increase in salaries.

Valek previously declared that for next year, up to CZK 9 billion could be set aside for pay rises in hospitals in the ministry’s directive on health care coverage, which redistributes money from the public health insurance system. However, doctors are demanding an increase in their basic pay, and Prada said the easiest way, which can also be achieved by January 2024, is to raise their pay scales.

“We do agree with the increase in basic pay for all healthcare employees. We cannot agree on the model to achieve this rise,” Valek told journalists today during a visit to a hospital in the Central Bohemian town of Nymburk.

“We argue, however, that due to the long-term inequalities in the system, there are large differences in basic salaries, and that we would like to agree on a guaranteed minimum basic salary level,” Valek said, adding that it should be set for fresh doctors after graduation, as well as for those after certification.

He said he should submit to the doctors the calculations for each category of doctors and other medical staff on Tuesday. “There is no possibility of some kind of a jump increase to double or triple the current scale pay and another CZK 30 or 50 billion from the state budget,” the minister added.

In fact, the protesting doctors are demanding that the basic remuneration of a doctor be linked to the average pay in the country, in particular, that the doctors’ basic salary should be between 1.5 and three times higher than the national average, depending on their experience, which works out at between CZK 65,000 and 130,000 monthly.

Hundreds of Hospital Operations To Be Postponed From December, Says Medical Chamber
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