#YearOfNewTasks: Prime Minister Beata Szydło talked with Minister Elżbieta Rafalska and Minister Konstanty Radziwiłł on new pro-family projects and health care reforms

As part of the review of ministries, Prime Minister Beata Szydło met on Thursday with Minister of Health Konstanty Radziwiłł and Minister of Family, Labour and Social Policy Elżbieta Rafalska. The aim of the review is to set forth the new lines of action of the government.

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Photo: P. Tracz/Chancellery of the Prime Minister

New pro-family government programmes and improvement of social security of Poles

At the beginning of her press conference, Prime Minister Beata Szydło extended her condolences to the family and friends of Sejm Deputy Rafał Wójcikowski who died in a car accident on Thursday.

Prime Minister Beata Szydło informed that the meeting with the ministers of family and health had focused on both their plans for 2017 and the long-term strategy of action resulting from the commitments of the Law and Justice government. The Prime Minister reminded that both ministries completed a number of important projects in 2016. Among the most important ones, she listed the increase of the minimum salary to PLN 2000, the minimum pension to PLN 1000, the hour pay rate to PLN 13, and the Family 500+ programme which allowed to stabilise the financial situation of the Polish families. Polish families lead a better life; many of them could afford to go on holidays. These are the important, civilisational effects of the programme, emphasized Prime Minister Beata Szydło. She added that the Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Policy would draw conclusions from the implementation of the Family 500+ programme and would present an annual summary of the pr4ogramme.

This year Minister of Family, Labour and Social Policy Elżbieta Rafalska will apply for increasing the unemployment benefits to half the amount of the minimum salary, informed Prime Minister Beata Szydło. She added that this year the ministry headed by Elżbieta Rafalska will implement the changes aimed at reducing the retirement age. The Prime Minister thanked the Minister of Family for her enormous work in this area.

The year 2017 will also see new government initiatives supporting the Polish families – starting from continuation and completion of the Family 500+ programme to the “For Life” programme. Another important challenge faced by the Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Policy is the reform of labour offices.

Comprehensive health care reform for the benefit of patients

Prime Minister Beata Szydło reminded that in 2016 Minister Konstanty Radziwiłł had implemented numerous legal acts that had initiated a comprehensive health care reform. They concerned i.a. free-of-charge medicines for senior citizens aged 75+ and systemic changes.

At the meeting, Minister of Health presented a project of liquidation of the National Health Fund. This is going to be a difficult reform. Our main goal is to secure the rights of patients, said the Prime Minister.

Beata Szydło added that the Standing Committee of the Council of Ministers would begin work on the project concerning the hospital network on Thursday. If the Committee approves the project, it will be discussed at the next government meeting, she said. Other important changes which will gradually transform the Polish health care system will include strengthening of the role of primary care.

Our approach to the reform is pragmatic and rational, aimed at satisfying the needs of patients. The changes are to secure the access to health care for Poles and to introduce decent conditions of work and pay for the medical personnel, said the Prime Minister. She added that it required time, determination and a lot of patience. The effects will be visible after some time. Thanks to the consistent implementation of changes, the health care system will be better for patients, summed up the Prime Minister.

Plans for the Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Policy: reform of labour offices, more support for the unemployed, disabled persons and families

Minister Elżbieta Rafalska reminded that 2017 would be the first full year of operation of the Family 500+ programme. We have secured the full financing for the Family 500+, in the amount exceeding PLN 23 billion, she ensured. Thanks to this initiative, the expenditure for social policy amount to 3.66%. We already see the reduction in poverty and we are waiting for an improvement in demography, said the Minister referring to the effects of the programme.

Elżbieta Rafalska announced that in 2017 the government would co-financed the creation of over 12,000 new places for the youngest children in day care facilities and 42,000 of already existing places in day care centres and child clubs under the Toddler Plus programme.

The year 2017 will also see an increase in unemployment benefits to 50% of the minimum salary and the creation of 5,000 jobs for persons with disabilities in public institutions. By the end of the year, we will have drafted a new act on support for disabled persons, informed the Minister of Health.

We will have an enormous amount of legislative work to do in relation to the “For Life” programme. Numerous solutions and programme proposals must be transformed into legal acts. The first package will enter into force on 1 July, said Minister Elżbieta Rafalska. She said that extremely important aspects of the programme included supporting and rehabilitations services, development of community self-help centres, provision of the rehabilitation opportunity at occupational therapy workshops, preferential conditions for establishing day care centres for children with disabilities.

Plans of the Ministry of Health for 2017: a hospital network, changes to primary care and liquidation of the National Health Fund

The quality of health care and safety of patients are the supreme values, emphasized Minister of Health Konstanty Radziwiłł. The Minister of Health presented the assumptions for the health care reform and summed up the effects of the work of his ministry last year. Among the achievements, he listed free-of-charge medicines for senior citizens, inclusion of 30 new substances on the list of refunded medicines for patients suffering from rare diseases and vaccines for children against pneumococcus. He added that the government of Prime Minister Beata Szydło stopped the chaotic and mindless commercialisation and privatisation of hospitals.

The act introducing the national health service will guarantee access to health care for every citizens, without asking for insurance, declared Minister Radziwiłł. He said that the work on the act was coming to an end.

In the middle of the year, the Act on the hospital network will enter into force and will secure the functioning of public hospitals. The quality of health care will also improve thanks to amendments to the Act on primary care which are to help coordinate the care over patients.

Other changes in health care will include the Act regulating the education of physicians, which will guarantee no charge studies in medicine for 600 new students. The post-graduate traineeship has been restored as well. It also includes the continuity of operation of all hospitals and outpatient clinics with which contracts for the new year were signed. Thus we secured the access to physicians to all patients, said the Minister of Health.

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