Social Policy

Doctors' on-call time: things are grumbling in the East...

(B2) In several Eastern European states, health services are on the verge of explosion. Low wages, flexible hours, difficult working conditions and brutal privatization of certain services are driving doctors, nurses and health personnel onto the streets.

In Hungary, the main union health services opposes a reform by the socialist-liberal coalition government aimed at introducing competition and privatization of health institutions. Proven objective of the (liberal) Minister of Health, Jeno Racz, as he explained to the daily Magyar Hirlap that Hungary “become a medical tourism center”. Similar concern in Serbia where the health union Independence leads the battle.

In the Czech Republic, the doctors' union and the doctors' association have been on latent strike for several months. They are protesting in particular against a plan by the Czech Minister of Health, Tomas Julinek, to increase the legal duration of doctors' working hours to 48 hours, a limit set by the 2003 European directive. A project which would no longer make it possible to pay overtime . However, these hours represent almost half of the average salary of doctors (40 crowns or around 000 euros).

In Poland, it is the “bomb” of on-call time in hospitals which threatens to burst, as reported Gazeta Wyborcza. A law, which is scheduled to come into force on January 1, allows exceptions to the limit on doctors' working hours (under the voluntary system, employees can then work up to 78 hours). Paralysis then threatens the hospitals. There will be no more money…or doctors.


Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).