EVEN THOUGH protesting hospital doctors’ resignations became effective only on December 1, several of the most seriously affected hospitals had to switch to crisis mode a day early, on November 30, after many doctors failed to turn up for work or left before the end of their shifts. Most of the absent doctors claimed they were ill.
Speaking on the morning of November 30, Health Minister Ivan Uhliarik admitted that the situation was critical in Liptovský Mikuláš, where doctors’ failure to turn up for work necessitated a switch to the hospital’s ‘plan B’: some patients had to be sent to neighbouring hospitals, while the hospital in nearby Ružomberok provided some doctors who travelled to Liptovský Mikuláš to substitute for their protesting colleagues.
Plan B for some hospitals involves the closure of wards, the deployment of military and private doctors, the hiring of doctors from abroad and even the complete closure of some hospitals as a last-resort solution, the cabinet stated on November 28.
Between Monday, November 28, and Thursday, December 1, most of the protesting doctors in Košice’s two affected hospitals – the teaching hospital and the teaching hospital for children – had withdrawn their resignations, negating the need to implement the state of emergency that the cabinet had passed for their region.
On Monday morning the situation was still critical in Skalica, but during the course of the day practically all the protesting doctors there withdrew their resignations and the hospital started working normally.
Other hospitals among the 15 that the cabinet had included in the state of emergency arrangement were not so lucky in the run-up to December 1, and many had to cope with a lack of doctors on November 30. In Prešov, for instance, 60 out of 150 protesting doctors did not turn up for work; the number increased to 110 on December 1.
While Trnava hospital worked normally in most cases, protesting doctors did not come to work at the neurology and the internal medicine wards, which therefore had to work under an emergency regime.
“The situation has worsened a lot; apart from neurology also the departments of anaesthesiology and intensive medicine have problems, as six doctors are missing there,” the director of Trnava hospital, Gabriel Pavelek, told the Sme daily on December 1. Despite receiving orders under the regulations of the state of emergency requiring them to work, some doctors did not report in at hospitals, citing illness.
Trnava hospital at first began sending neurology patients to nearby Galanta, but Pavelek admitted to Sme that he was going to attempt an unusual solution: trying to bring doctors from Bratislava’s teaching hospital to Trnava.
But both the teaching hospital in Bratislava and the teaching hospital for children were also having to cope with a shortage of doctors. On the morning of December 1 the teaching hospital was down by 291 doctors overall.
In the teaching hospital for children, 39 doctors did not turn up to work on December 1. While some of those had been on long-term sick leave, others reported in sick only in the run-up to December 1. Most wards were functioning normally, apart from some surgical wards. These were operating according to an emergency regime but were reportedly able to provide all necessary services.
Hospitals in Banská Bystrica, Čadca, Trstená, Dolný Kubín and Topoľčany were facing similar problems on November 30 and December 1.
All of the hospitals stated on December 1 they were able to provide emergency health care at least, but some of them admitted they might not be able to function in crisis mode for an extended period.
5. Dec 2011 at 0:00 | Michaela Terenzani