“The fight for survival. What more can be done?” writes Pravda two days after the collective resignation of 1,400 Slovak doctors to protest against their salaries and a shortage of funding in a health care system that, the newspaper said, “is fully and finally collapsing.”
The Bratislava daily describes “the chaos of services without doctors, cancelled operations, and anxious patients” in most Slovak hospitals. The situation remains critical despite the state of emergency declared in 16 hospitals by the government on November 29, which forces the doctors who resigned to work on at 70 percent of their salary.
Slovakia is not the only one facing this problem. In early 2011, the Czech government had to find a compromise with the 4,000 doctors who had joined in the movement “Thank you, we’re leaving.” In Hungary, the doctors’ union has threatened to strike if their wage demands aren’t settled by 8 December.
On 30 November, Iveta Radičová, the outgoing prime minister, however, officially requested assistance from the neighbouring countries of the Visegrad Group (Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland). But help is hard to find. At present, notes Lidové noviny, “the Czech army can send no more than thirty doctors to Slovakia.”
“So where to find the money to increase the wages in the public hospitals?” asks SME. “In hospitals, the money that could be used to increase salaries is vanishing. It’s the doctors who know the most about pharmaceutical abuse, unnecessary services or purchases of equipment that’s too expensive, and they should be talking about that.”