Prime Minister Beata Szydło: The government’s proposal for resident physicians is good and fair

On Wednesday, the Prime Minister and the Minister of Health participated in the meeting of the Social Dialogue Council, devoted to the functioning of the Act on the methods of establishing the minimum remuneration of health professionals. After the Council’s meeting, Prime Minister Beata Szydło spoke with physicians from the Association of Residents of the Doctors’ Trade Union of Poland about their calls and the possible realisation of their requests.

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Photo: P. Tracz / Chancellery of the Prime Minister

Concrete proposals for physicians

After a few hours of the meeting with resident physicians, Prime Minister Beata Szydło said that the government had presented some concrete proposals. I proposed to work jointly with residents on the issues that they have postulated and that I consider rightful, said the Prime Minister. As she explained, these claims concern, among others, increasing expenditures for health care, increasing salaries for residents and reviewing the act on the minimum remuneration, which concerns all health care professionals.

We have all agreed that these issues are relevant and we want to address them. My proposal consists in establishing a joint group, involving residents and other health care professionals, as well as representatives of the government, and in developing solutions by 15 December. The government expresses its willingness to change remunerations in the health care system, but this action has to encompass all health care professions, said Beata Szydło.

In the opinion of the Prime Minister, the government’s proposal is good and fair. It is the first time that the government is inviting representatives of any profession to design targeted solutions concerning their remunerations. This proposal shows our openness. We consider residents to be very important. In the future, they will make decisions concerning the path of development for the health care services in Poland, said the Prime Minister.

More expenditure on health care services

In 2017, the government already allocated additional PLN 8 billion for health care. Some funds have been already spent on additional services, such as cataract treatment. Funding has been also mobilised for the equipment of physician’s offices in schools. In the next year, in addition to the budget allocated in 2017, the system will receive another PLN 6 billion, said the Prime Minister. In 2018, a total amount of PLN 92 billion will be devoted to health care services, both from the National Health Fund and from the State’s budget.

The Prime Minister recalled that the Ministry of Health had prepared a draft act increasing the expenditure on health care services up to 6% GDP by 2025.It is consistent with the request of the residents, but they wanted this period to be shorter – by 2021 or 2022. I proposed this period to be as short as possible, but with no time limits. However, the residents disagreed with the proposal to increase the expenditure for health care services up to 6% GDP without fixing the date they request.

It only makes sense to fix the whole system

On 1 July 2017, an act increasing remunerations of health system personnel came into effect. Thanks to the modifications adopted in this act, we will spend additional PLN 17 billion to increase salaries in five years, said the Prime Minister before the meeting. We are well aware of the fact that the health care system needs to be changed. This is why we are making such decisions. We are also aware that the issue of remuneration requires not only detailed discussions, but also preparations, she emphasised.

The Prime Minister underlined that her government had to catch up on the backlogs from the previous years. As she added, the objective is to fix the whole system, not to introduce changes for some chosen groups. This global improvement of the system includes the already adopted draft acts concerning hospital networks, minimum salaries or primary health care. “We will do it this way because it is the only sensible way to do it,” said the Prime Minister.

She also stated that the modifications are also intended to improve the access to medical services, reduce patient waiting times, equip health care establishments and fill in the generation gap.

The first salary increase for residents since 2009

We have decided to increase the remuneration envelope for residents and interns in 2018 by over 40% in comparison to the expenditure of our predecessors. PLN 812 million was allocated for this objective in 2015, whereas in the budget for the next year, this value will amount to PLN 1.179 billion. This will be the first salary increase for resident physicians since 2009, underlined Prime Minister Beata Szydło.

By the end of 2021 resident physicians will earn at least PLN 5,251. Already by the end of this year they will receive the first funds from this envelope, including the compensation for the period from July 2017. The second instalment of funds will be disbursed in January 2018.

Recently, the Minister of Health proposed to raise the salaries of resident physicians who have decided to commence post-graduate studies. The planned raises will cover persons pursuing specialisations most sought after by the patients. Such persons will receive a monthly allowance of PLN 1,200. Nearly half of the physicians starting their residency will be eligible to receive these funds. This means that the earnings of beginner physicians will increase by at least about PLN 1,300 already in 2017, and from January 2017 by at least about PLN 1,450 – explained Prime Minister Beata Szydło.

Government prepared to engage in dialogue

Prime Minister Beata Szydło announced that she will wait until Thursday for the resident physicians’ final decision concerning their willingness to cooperate with the government. I am open to cooperation. I expect the same openness from the representatives of medical circles – she declared. The head of the government stressed that the condition of the health care affects all Poles. It is not limited to health care professionals. I admire the resident physicians for thinking about the condition of health care. This shows that they care for the sector in which they are employed, which they themselves have chosen and which they expect to grow. For this they deserve our compliments, they have shown that they are responsible and therefore they should sit down at the negotiation table and work on finding a solution to the existing problem – she stressed. According to the Prime Minister, without cooperating with all the relevant circles important and large-scale reforms cannot be implemented, and such large amounts of money cannot be effectively directed where they are needed.

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