The head of the KOHOM association of family doctors, Natasa Ban-Toskic, said on Thursday the introduction of regular preventive check-ups, proposed by the Health Ministry, will increase the pressure on that segment of primary health care, already affected by labour shortages and lack of organisation.
Amendments to the Healthcare Act and the Act on Mandatory Health Insurance envisage regular preventive check-ups that are to be introduced in two counties as of the start of 2023, before being introduced in the rest of the country.
Under the amendments, family doctors would have to invite all of their patients above the age of 45 who have not had a regular medical check-up in more than two years, to undergo such an examination.
That proposal, which is part of the reform of the health sector, was presented earlier in the day by Health Minister Vili Beros.
Commenting on it, KOHOM president Ban-Toskic said that nobody had explained how family doctors would be able to take on that additional duty.
“As part of family doctors’ work prevention has been neglected because that branch of primary health care has been completely devastated in terms of personnel and organisation,” Ban-Toskic said in an interview with Nova TV commercial broadcaster.
If the duty is introduced for family doctors to perform regular check-ups, they will not have time for some other duties, she said, calling on the ministry to structure their working hours so they could know when during their work time they are required to perform regular check-ups and their patients could know when they are not available for other examinations and tests.
As for the shortage of family doctors and the possibility for young doctors to work for a year in family medicine after graduation, Ban-Toskic said she believed good wages and good working conditions, possibilities of specialist training and professional development, and reducing the burden of administrative work on doctors were part of the solution.
She said that long waiting lists for specialist examinations were one of the biggest problems causing dissatisfaction among patients and that patients were not being arrogant about it, a comment on Croatian Health Insurance Institute director Lucijan Vukelic’s statement about Croats being “a bit arrogant” because they think that healthcare is free of charge.
“They should not shift the blame onto patients but deal with waiting lists and other problems that bother them,” she said.