During the first two pandemic waves, people fighting against Covid on the frontline were applauded. They even received special bonuses from the state. This will change now, as most frontline workers will see their salaries frozen.
They will face the same fate as people working in public administration, whose salaries will not be increased due to the high budget deficit. The freeze will impact Slovakia's regional hygienists, nursing homes employees, teachers and soldiers, to name a few.
This is happening at a time when frontline workers in Slovakia are already receiving lower salaries than their colleagues abroad and the country struggles to lure new and qualified people to work in these professions.
On the other hand, the salaries of doctors and nurses are raised automatically, based on the average wage of the national economy from two years prior. As a result, their salaries will go up by 3.8 percent next year.
However, this hike still might not be enough. Since the Covid pandemic broke out in Europe, the V4 countries are fighting for doctors. The Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland raised their salaries significantly; in Hungary, by up to 100 percent at the beginning of this year. Thus, it is attractive for Slovak doctors to work abroad.
Peter Visolajský, chair of the Medical Trade Unions Organisation (LOZ), said that there is a mostly a lack of doctors in their 40s and 50s in hospitals. In his opinion, they have the most experience and their younger colleagues can learn from them.
The remuneration system in the health sector is set in a way that the experienced doctor with years-long practice receives the same salary as the newly-trained doctor, Visolajský said. This is why many of them leave abroad or establish a private practice.
“It’s a loss for society because the added value in an outpatient department is lower than if they were in hospitals,” he continued. “It’s also sad that they earn more money in the outpatient department.”