The Czech government on Wednesday approved an agreement to increase doctors’ base monthly salaries by Kč 5,000 to Kč 8,000 — answering their key demand and thereby staving off the threat of a crisis in acute health care service — on the condition that the unions call on doctors to withdraw the mass resignations coordination under the “Thank you, we’re leaving” campaign.
“[We] have decided to accept this offer,” Martin Engel, a radiologist at Prague’s Vinohrady Hospital and the chairman of the Czech Doctors’ Union (LOK) told reporters, as cited by Reuters. “I will call on doctors to end the ‘Thank you, we’re leaving’ campaign.”
Thousands of Czech hospital doctors had handed in their resignations, mainly over what they saw as low pay, poor working conditions and mismanagement in hospital. The server iDnes.cz reported that two-thirds of doctors present when the unions presented the government offer agreed with it.
Doctors’ salaries currently stand at around Kč 48,000 per month on average — including overtime. With the agreed increase, most will earn more than twice the average national monthly wage of Kč 23,665, but still far less than their counterparts in Western Europe. Early this month, doctors issued what Minister of Health Leos Heger (Civic Democrats, ODS) called an “ultimatum” pushing three times the average salary by 2013.
Some ODS members have stressed that the salary increases must be accompanied by reform of the health care system — or Prime Minister Petr Nečas, the party leader, should himself resign; ODS deputy Marek Šnajdr of ODS, who is supervisory board chairman of the largest state medical insurer, VZP, was quoted in Hospodárske noviny on Thursday as saying the cabinet has committed to paying doctors Kč 6 billion to Kč 7 billion — money that it does not have.