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Amendment: Doctors who refuse to work during emergency to face punishment

Health-care workers who endanger the health and lives of people by refusing to work during a state of emergency could face two to five years in jail, lose their medical license or suffer financial sanctions, according to an amending proposal to the new Criminal Code that was passed by the parliamentary health committee on Tuesday, April 23. This means that if the government declares a state of emergency and doctors refuse to come to work, they will be punished.

Health-care workers who endanger the health and lives of people by refusing to work during a state of emergency could face two to five years in jail, lose their medical license or suffer financial sanctions, according to an amending proposal to the new Criminal Code that was passed by the parliamentary health committee on Tuesday, April 23. This means that if the government declares a state of emergency and doctors refuse to come to work, they will be punished.

The proposal does not sit well with some members of the opposition, who perceive this as an effort to criminalise health-care workers. Their negative view is shared by Slovak Doctors Chamber president and former head of the doctors’ union Marian Kollár, who claimed that the bill in question goes against the interests of patients.

"Smer is preparing a hammer for health workers. If they go on strike and an emergency situation is declared, they would have to come to work or else be struck off [lose their medical license] for ten years, lose their freedom or even be fined," said Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKÚ) MP Viliam Novotný. He conceded that the former government was also contemplating the introduction of criminal liability for doctors, but added that it chose not to do so. "We decided that we can't make threats. Dialogue is the way to go," he said as quoted by the TASR newswire. Kollár thinks that the legislation flies in the face of European law and the Slovak Constitution, and added that the true intent behind this initiative is to curb doctors’ ability to hold collective negotiations and go on strike.

Justice Minister Tomás Borec finds the proposal sensible, however. "It's a fact that a crisis situation might emerge, one in which people's lives and health could be at risk,” he told TASR. “And there must be an instrument in the hands of either the government or the state designed to ensure people's health and the protection of their lives. Health and the protection of lives is one of the fundamental constitutional rights and a foremost duty of every government."

The draft amendment was penned by Smer MP Jozef Valocký, who is the director of the Nitra Faculty Hospital, the Sme daily wrote.

(Source: TASR, Sme)
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
The Slovak Spectator cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information presented in its Flash News postings.

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