Slovak hospitals face collapse

Slovak hospitals face collapse
A Slovak COVID-19 testing centre. / bne IntelliNews
By bne IntelliNews October 7, 2022

A recent wave of resignations by medical staff at Slovak health facilities could mean that some of the hospitals are forced to shut down by December. Medical personnel want to use the resignations to bring attention to the structural issues in the country’s health sector.

Slovak healthcare has been plagued by understaffing and has been underfinanced for years. The country is also having a hard time coping with inflation and the soaring energy crisis. As of last week there were 2,050 filed resignations and the number keeps growing, labour unions report.

On Wednesday a majority of 132 of 134 deputies present in the parliament passed the health ministry’s legislative measure to raise wages in the health sector.  However, a day later the Medical Trade Unions Associatoins (LOZ), which also published an eight-point list of demands and runs instructions on how to file a resignation at its website, released a statement signed by representatives of medical, social and senior care staff associations “calling on immediate finalising of systematic changes in healthcare”.

The statement also expresses hope that legislators “realise that the situation is critical and healthcare faces collapse”. Other demands include improved hospital and medical schools financing. and that understaffing and abolishing of “humiliating non-monetary compensations” is also addressed.

LOZ chairman Peter Visolajsky has been critical of several successive Slovak governments. In the past he accused the cabinet of populist Smer-SD leader Robert Fico of putting out criteria for awarding EU-funded subsidies that favour private health facilities over the public ones, and he also said that Slovakia's Penta Group and other companies with extensive privately held health assets benefit from the underfinancing and the overall crisis of Slovak public healthcare.  

As of Thursday “107 doctors resigned in the Zilina region”, which operates four hospitals in the region, director of the health department at the Zilina administrative region Silvia Pearcikova told local media. Earlier this week Radio Slovakia reported that 54 doctors resigned at Bojnice hospital, that is one third of all the doctors at the hospital.

“This means that unless they [doctors] don’t take back their resignations there is a 80% likelihood we will be forced to shut down the hospital” in December when resignations become effective, the hospital’s director Peter Glatz was quoted as saying by Radio Slovakia. Glatz explained the most critical aspect is that resignations include “nearly all the doctors from the intensive care unit”.