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Polish doctors' protest grows, government turns to Ukraine for replacements

Staff Writer |
Polish medical and allied health professionals have joined resident doctors in an ongoing protest over healthcare.

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PZM, an umbrella organization bringing together more than a dozen allied health and medical professionals' unions and associations, has joined the protest and expanded it across Poland, Radio Poland reported.

As well as the original 20 protesters in Warsaw, another 30 will go on hunger strike in Kraków, Wrocław in the southwest and Szczecin in the northwest.

But Health Minister Konstanty Radziwiłł said he was "surprised" that the government "had not been heard".

"We have increased spending on healthcare and will continue to increase it," he said.

Radziwiłł earlier said that the government had already increased expenditure by PLN 8 billion year-on-year to PLN 87 billion in 2017, adding that 2018 would see a further increase of PLN 6 billion spent on health care.

On 2 October, a group of 20 resident doctors started a hunger strike in the foyer of a Warsaw paediatric hospital.

They on Monday said they wanted an immediate pay rise to 105% of the national average monthly wage of PLN 4,600 gross each month, roughly PLN 3,200 net, after earlier demanding double the national average.

Resident doctors claim to make PLN 2,100-2,500 net, about PLN 3,000-3,5000 gross, each month.

The protesting doctors also said there was a doctor shortage and that medics were going abroad for work and demanded better working conditions, shorter hospital waiting lists, and less red tape.

The Polish government wants to simplify the employment process for Ukrainian doctors in an effort to counter staff shortages in Polish hospitals.

Sources in both Ukraine and the Polish Health Ministry have confirmed that talks are underway on the matter, the Dziennik Gazeta Prawna daily reported.

“We’re considering applying German solutions, which involve granting foreign doctors a licence to practise their profession [in] a designated workplace,” Milena Kruszewska, spokesperson for the Health Ministry, told the Dziennik Gazeta Prawna daily.

The medical practitioners would be able to obtain a full licence to work anywhere in Poland once in the country.

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