Photo: Freepik

Doctors To End Protest On Friday As Deal Reached Over Salaries

The parties want to sign the final agreement on Friday, after which the doctors should call off their protest. Credit: Freepik.

Prague, Dec 5 (CTK) – The ongoing doctors protests are set to end on Friday, as the Czech Medical Chamber (CLK) and unions have agreed to a government offer to raise doctors’ salaries by CZK 5,000-15,000, depending on qualification level, and the pay of other hospital staff by 5%, Health Minister Vlastimil Valek (TOP 09) announced yesterday.

The parties want to sign the final agreement on Friday, after which the doctors should call off their protest and withdraw their refusal to work overtime, which has restricted hospital operation to varying degrees since the beginning of December, Valek added after the conclusion of talks with representatives of CLK, medical trade unions and health insurers.

The director of the largest public General Health Insurance Company (VZP), Zdenek Kabatek, said the money would go directly to the employees after signing a supplementary agreement on financial coverage between the insurance company and the hospital.

“The sum of the bonus coverage mechanism and the base included in the directive makes up CZK 9.8 billion,” he added. It was this sum that Prime Minister Petr Fiala (ODS) offered to unblock negotiations with doctors last Thursday, after they rejected the Health Ministry’s offer of an CZK 8.5 billion increase during negotiations lasting for several months.

“Every hospital will be offered to sign the supplement,” Minister Valek said, adding that both associations of hospitals agree with the offer.

He noted that a similar situation had occurred in 2008, when the remuneration of nurses had been addressed, and all hospitals had signed the supplements.

Valek added that only VZP would participate, not the other six health insurance companies in the country.

According to CLK vice-president Jan Prada, leader of the doctors’ protests, a specific agreement will be drawn up in the next few days and signed on Friday. Consequently, the dissatisfied doctors, who have refused to work overtime since December, will call off their protest action, he added. Until then, doctors will continue to refuse to work overtime.

At the end of October, CLK said about 6,100 physicians had rejected overtime work, but some had already changed their minds. Overall, there are about 23,000 doctors working in hospitals in the Czech Republic, and about 13,000 of them are working overtime, according to CLK data.

Medical Trade Union Club-Association of Czech Doctors (LOK) chairman Martin Engel said the medical unions, whose representatives would meet on Thursday, wanted to assess the proposal.

According to Valek, the proposal envisages that doctors after graduation will have an income CZK 5,000 higher than now, rising to CZK 8,000 higher after completing the basic post-graduate qualification round, and CZK 15,000 higher after certification.

“I thank all those involved for their reasonable approach and cooperation, especially Minister Valek, who led the negotiations,” PM Fiala wrote on Twitter after yesterday’s meeting.

Preparation will continue on a separate law on the remuneration of healthcare workers.

The remuneration of medical staff should be integrated with the directive on healthcare coverage if possible, said Valek.

This directive determines the distribution of the year-on-year increase in public health insurance funding between the different areas of healthcare. According to Valek, the Labour Code should be amended again to introduce shifts where doctors must work continuously.

Doctors began refusing overtime work in the summer after the Czech parliament approved an amendment to the Labour Code that doubled the maximum number of hours of voluntary overtime work in hospitals to 832 hours per year. The CLK Junior Doctors Section called on doctors to refuse this overtime from December.

They wanted to draw attention to the fact that, while doctors originally had an excessive amount of overtime, they were often economically dependent on it, as it accounted for up to half of their monthly income. Together with the trade unions, they therefore demanded an increase in basic salaries to between 1.5 and three times the average wage, by CZK 60,000 to 120,000, an increase of 50 to 80% compared to the current level.

However, meeting such a demand would cost an additional tens of billions of crowns, Valek said earlier.

In addition, the public health insurance is expected to be in deficit next year, and insurance companies will have to use reserves from previous years to find around CZK 9 billion. Total healthcare costs in 2024 are projected at more than CZK 500 billion, of which almost CZK 280 billion will go to inpatient care.

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