Doctors announce strike, demand meeting with PM

Lovro Domitrovic/PIXSELL / Ilustracija

Five umbrella associations of doctors announced a strike after their meeting on Tuesday, and President of the Croatian Medical Chamber Kresimir Luetic said they expected to meet with Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic and wanted him to get personally involved in addressing their problems.

“All five organisations of doctors are ready for a strike, and the responsibility for the strike lies with the government. All our patients will be well taken care of during the strike, including all emergency patients, oncological patients and children,” Luetic told the press after the meeting.

Speaking of a recent protest rally of doctors outside the government offices in Zagreb, he said that “3,000 doctors in St Mark’s Square was not a clear enough message for the government,” and added that the doctors agreed to formally request a meeting with the prime minister on Wednesday.

“We expect him to personally get involved in addressing these burning issues,” Luetic said.

At the protest rally in Zagreb, the five medical organisations drew attention to doctors’ excessive workload and poor working conditions, inefficient management, poor state of primary healthcare, the lack of reforms, and continued ignoring of their demands.

The Health Ministry issued a statement on Tuesday evening following the announcement, saying that “the Health Ministry remains open to dialogue, which is the only path to a solution. Protests and strike action are legitimate ways of expressing dissatisfaction, but they will not bring us closer to improving the health system.”

On Wednesday morning, the head of the Croatian Association of Hospital Doctors, Ivana Smit, spoke to N1 about the crisis in the healthcare sector.

“We cannot fight for the entire country. We recognised our problem and we’re trying to solve it because no one else will. This is not just about salaries. The entire system is collapsing, especially primary care. Our emergency services are falling apart, no one is applying for specialisation, the gaps are filled by specialists of cardiology, neurology, who are then unable to do their actual job, and then everyone is wondering why the waiting lists are a mile long. They’re long because everyone is constantly stopping gaps somewhere,” she said.