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Czech report Czech report
by Euro Reporter
2011-01-15 10:03:28
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The Czech Republic has announced a major healthcare reform plan

Health minister Leos Heger has unveiled the comprehensive reform plan in response to protests from the country’s doctors, who are threatening to emigrate en masse if they do not receive a substantial increase in their salaries. Doctors are arguing that the government should divert spending from expensive equipment and medicines and increase their salaries instead.

A typical doctor’s salary in the Czech Republic is currently around £750, (€880) per month, well below the national average salary, and less than a mechanic or waiter. The reform proposals include the concept of ‘standard’ and ‘above-standard’ care, which would entail patients paying more for the most expensive, and arguably the best care; it is implied that this will also involve medicines, in due course.

The plans to restrict the introduction of and access to new medicines will require new legislation, however, with parliament likely to present obstacles to the package. The government aims to speed the introduction of generics onto the market, and at the same time aims to cut generics prices. Heger says the central elements are the definition of patient eligibility and the creation of reimbursement standards, as well as greater controls on the introduction of new healthcare technologies, and a redefinition of the powers and duties of health insurance funds.


Minister asks doctors to stay, money for pay next year

Czech Health Minister Leos Heger (TOP 09) today sent an open letter to doctors asking them to stay in hospitals, saying the prepared reform will make it possible to start raising their salaries next year. According to the ministry’s data, about a quarter out of 16,000 hospital doctors handed in their notices at the year’s end. The notices will take effect on March 1. Some hospitals are threatened with a total collapse. The protest has been initiated by the doctors´ unions under the slogan Thank You, We Are Leaving.

The unions rejected Heger´s call. "The open letter includes everything but the willingness to held talks with the protesting doctors and to deal with the cause of the crisis," Czech Doctors´ Union (LOK) head Martin Engel told CTK. The doctors say they will go work abroad or open private surgeries. "Blackmailing is not a path towards solving problems that can only be found at the negotiating table, without emotions and with a cool head," Heger wrote. "If you are willing to accept raising salaries next year at least, I can promise this with a good conscience," Heger wrote. He wrote he spoke at the end of last year with a number of doctors who handed in their notices. A majority of them are decent, industrious and wise people who use their own reason.

"Most of them markedly differed from the protagonists of the LOK who have been arousing patients´ fears in the past few months and who are spreading hatred of all those who do not sympathise with them," Heger wrote. He reminded that the ministry established only a small part of the Czech hospitals, but it does not renounce responsibility for the level of funding all of them. Most of the hospitals are established by the regions. Engel today met Eduard Sohlich, head of the Association of Regional Hospitals. Sohlich said the departures of doctors may be used as a pretext to close regional hospitals. He said tens of thousands of jobs will be cancelled, which will affect Czech citizens.

Heger wrote that the ministry cannot, however, influence the pay level, purchase of medicines and material, and the volume of construction in a majority of them. "On the contrary, it is generally known that this extent is practically everywhere influenced by the doctors and their pressure on hospital managers," Heger wrote. It cannot be blamed on politicians only that money is then missing on the doctors´ pay slips, Heger wrote. He wrote he will not gain additional money for the health care sector from the budget, but he wants to gain it from the health care system by introducing order in it and by increasing the effectiveness of work.


Minister may send more police to Czech town over Romany crime

Czech Interior Minister Radek John has promised to reinforce the police unit in Novy Bydzov if crime committed by Romanies becomes a problem again, after meeting the town’s mayor Pavel Louda and the regional police head Petr Pribyl today. Novy Bydzov has been dealing with growing crime and violence since the autumn. The town hall has declared a crusade against "the problematic Romanies". It plans to hire a security agency to ensure the safety of the citizens and adopted special measures to fight the crime. Its official statement entitled Gypsies Have Raped was cited by Czech media and caused controversy. "They are roaming the town, being a nuisance, stealing and raping. During the time a decent citizen is working, gypsies are lazily sitting on park benches in the square, happily chatting," the statement says.

John said he believes the situation would calm down. He pointed out that statistics show no increase in crime rate. "By unfortunate coincidence, several crimes were committed at the end of last year and the beginning of this year," John said. He said it does not seem a good idea for Novy Bydzov to hire a security agency. He added that such agency should not function instead of the police. John recalled that 88 percent of violent crimes were cleared up in Novy Bydzov last year, which is highly successful. Louda and Pribyl and John agreed that to prevent crime it is necessary to investigate a crime as soon as possible, to promptly send the case to court and to quickly punish the crime. Louda said he had a meeting with Romany families living in the town. He said the Romanies would choose their representatives who would communicate with the town hall about cooperation.

John said the case of Novy Bydzov shows the need to urgently pass a law enabling municipalities to decide on the number of casinos on its territory. Louda said last week that the locals fear to send their children to school and elderly people fear to leave their homes. He said three attacks by groups of Romanies were registered in the town within the first seven days of January. The number of policemen patrolling the streets increased from four to six. The town hall established a security commission and an e-mail service focusing on the security situation. The situation in Novy Bydzov escalated after a young woman was raped and several people were robbed last November. A petition demanding that safety be guaranteed was signed by 3,257 persons. Novy Bydzov has about 7,000 inhabitants.

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