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Crisis talks with Ministry of Health planned

The talks are a bid to avoid a nationwide strike of general practitioners over funding.

By BOHEMIST STAFF

PRAGUE – The Ministry of Health has convened an emergency meeting with general practitioner (GP) representatives to take place tomorrow over the threat of a nationwide doctors’ strike, local media reported.

The strike is scheduled for September 21 and is in anger over funding deficiencies for general practitioner services. Hospital doctors and nurses are in the running for a 10 percent pay increase, but GPs are losing out on a share of the wage increase pie, they say.

However, Health Minister Svatopluk Nemecek has entered the ring with a few fighting words for the GPs whom he calls “blackmailers” and “striking millionaires,” referring to the average GP salary of around 200,000 Kč, or around US$8,300 per month.

“Frankly, the response of the Minister leaves us a little bit worried,” said John Uhrová of the Board of the Association of General Practitioners, according to Hospodářské Noviny. The GPs claim their take-home package is much lower due to having to cough up for all the expenses of a medical center, including support staff salaries and equipment, out of their earnings.

Doctors currently receive salaries commensurate upon the number of registered patients are their clinics, no matter how frequently or infrequently the patient actually seeks medical attention. Such a payment scheme has led to criticism of the doctors’ high pay.

However, the Health Minister has called the proposed strike a bullying tactic ahead of the October 31 tabling of the 2017 health services payment directive, that would set the future year’s salary for health practitioners both in private clinics and in hospitals.

“I must say frankly that we really want to preferably support hospitals, as they are considerably short of nurses and doctors. I will gladly support GPs as well, but the [demanded] sum definitely will not go to them, since the average [monthly] income of a GP ranges from 200,000 to 220,000 crowns, according to various statistics,” CTK reported Nemecek as saying.

With this kind of fight on the cards, we’d say don’t get sick around September 21!

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