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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Slovenia: During the medical strike, the minister escaped on vacation

By: Nova24tv.si

Instead of actively addressing the issues in the Slovenian healthcare system, which is practically falling apart before our eyes, and finding solutions to meet the demands of the medical strike, Minister of Health Valentina Prevolnik Rupel has decided to go on vacation. Many perceive such behaviour as if the minister is not bothered at all by the seven-week-long healthcare strike, which is set to escalate further on Friday.

On Friday, the Minister of Health, Valentina Prevolnik Rupel, announced that the government would decide on the next steps to ensure the functioning of the healthcare system during the strike at Monday’s extraordinary government session. “Despite the strike, it must not happen that vulnerable groups do not have access to the services they need,” she emphasised, according to STA, adding that due to the withdrawal of consents for overtime work by some doctors, they will have to find new ways to organise doctors’ work.

On Monday, many were surprised to find out that Valentina Prevolnik Rupel was nowhere to be seen on Gregorčičeva Street. State Secretary at the Ministry of Health, Denis Kordež, responded to a journalist’s question about whether the minister was on vacation, stating that the minister is absent. Kordež was the one who, instead of the absent minister, explained at the press conference what measures they had conceived to protect the public healthcare system. In cases where the current forms of work cannot be maintained due to an insufficient number of doctors, according to him, they will be able to be redistributed into shift work.

Potočnik: Champions in shooting themselves in the foot

Regarding the government’s threat of compulsory shift work, Dr Federico V. Potočnik responded critically, explaining that the staff is already at the maximum everywhere, and there are no reserves. “48 hours per week means that there will be no doctors after three weeks. No measure of redistribution makes sense if there is no physical staff,” he emphasised, adding that they are completely incompetent, which is dangerous.

According to Potočnik, “this incompetent government has chosen the worst possible measures of all”. As he emphasises, more staff is needed for shift work. Regarding the consolidation of workplaces, he explained that they will turn two overloaded clinics into one super-overloaded clinic and added that the abolition of on-call positions means poorer accessibility. He labelled the decision-makers’ actions as “champions in shooting themselves in the foot”.

On Monday, the trade union of doctors and dentists, Fides, did not hold back with criticism of the “government’s solutions”, which, according to them, show a great lack of understanding of the situation in healthcare. “If such measures were drafted at the Ministry of Health, we are now even more concerned about public healthcare than we were before,” they emphasised, adding that the implementation of shift work will be legally extremely difficult and at the same time a dangerous interference in work organisation for patients. “It will be particularly dangerous within the emergency medical care system,” they stress.

They warned that some of the government’s proposed ideas and solutions are based on the provisions of the Regulation on the Organisation of Continuous Healthcare, which ceased to be valid in 2017 based on the agreement between Fides and the government and therefore cannot be a legal basis for organising continuous readiness. … which means that if the government’s proposals and employers’ actions are based on this basis, they will be without a legal basis and illegal. According to the union, the government’s announced measures have two essential consequences: those who remain will shoulder even more work, and in the case of acute illness or complications in hospitalised patients, they will not receive the same care as before.

It finally came to an admission that the government is to blame for the strike

As we have been constantly witnessing the explanation, with the help of friendly media and NGOs, that the current situation is not the government’s fault, but “corrupt doctors” who dare to strike, it is undoubtedly useful to highlight the admission of State Secretary Kordež, who may have unintentionally admitted during his appearance on the show 24ur Zvečer that it is actually the government that is not keeping the agreement.

“No, it is not that Fides violated several strike agreements; the government did not fulfil what it signed with Fides. That was my message, and no one is running away from it,” Kordež said. In the light of this admission, which is otherwise a bare fact that Fides has been pointing out all along, the recent calls by the president and the prime minister to end the doctor’s strike are even more bizarre.

But as long as those in power have NGOs and media on their side, tearing doctors apart, even the Minister of Health can afford to go on vacation before the strike escalates. “The Minister of Health could go on vacation because the president, depoliticised and independent media, and NGOs are misleading people 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, saying that only evil and greedy doctors need to stop striking and everything will be fine. The strike is none of the government’s concern,” former minister Dr Žiga Turk is convinced. He believes that the government is not worried about the strike at all. “Sooner or later, they will stop. If someone dies because of it, the same effect as the sun and seawater for COVID: relieving the pension fund,” he commented.

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