At its extraordinary meeting on the evening of November 28, the cabinet of Iveta Radičová agreed to declare a state of emergency at fifteen state-run hospitals where an overwhelming majority of protesting hospital doctors rejected an offer of a €300 pay rise and refused to withdraw their resignation notices that take effect on December 1, the SITA newswire reported.
Prime Minister Radičová told a news conference following the cabinet's decision that the measure will secure all necessary health care for Slovak citizens. The state of emergency permits authorities to order doctors to perform their duties and it includes the right to ban a strike by some employees. The state of emergency will be declared as of November 29 and will only to thirteen districts in the country and to fifteen health-care facilities.
The PM said the emergency measure will cover the university hospitals in Bratislava and Košice, teaching hospitals in Trnava, Trenčín, Žilina, Prešov, and Banská Bystrica, children's faculty hospitals in Bratislava and Košice, and hospitals in Bojnice, Trstená, Dolný Kubín, Čadca, Liptovský Mikuláš and Poprad.
Radičová and Health Minister Ivan Uhliarik also announced that the state of emergency will not apply to doctors who did not submit resignation notices and that the salaries of doctors who have resigned but are forced to work will not be reduced as it had originally been announced. The government also stated that hospital directors must comply with the country’s Labour Code during the state of emergency.
Radičová told SITA that the state of emergency will last only for a few days, a week maximum, at six of the fifteen hospitals. The cabinet also decided to implement rationalisation measures as of December 1 to optimise the numbers of wards and clinics. Radičová again urged doctors to reconsider the offer from her cabinet, restating that she respects the doctors' work but that that the state cannot offer a pay rise of more than €300.
The Medical Trade Unions Association (LOZ) said at the end of September that 2,411 doctors had submitted their resignation notices in 34 hospitals across Slovakia. It has been reported that about 400 of the doctors have withdraw their notices. Altogether 7,500 doctors work at these state-run hospitals in Slovakia. LOZ has made four demands to the government: to observe the Labour Code, to change the system of health-care funding, to stop transformation of hospitals into joint-stock companies, and to increase wages of health-care employees.
SITA reported that by noon on Tuesday, November 29, the head of the Trenčín teaching hospital had acquired the power to force doctors to work, even those who had submitted their resignation notices. LOZ union leaders in Prešov told SITA that they view the declaration of a state of emergency as a brutal demonstration of state power.
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
The Slovak Spectator cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information presented in its Flash News postings.
29. Nov 2011 at 14:00