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If you follow Polish news, you probably already heard about young Polish doctors starting a hunger protest at the beginning of the month. A few dozen young doctors have been on a hunger strike at a children’s hospital in Warsaw and were joined by groups in Szczecin, in the northwest, and in the central city of Łódź. Recently Gdańsk, Kraków and other cities joined in as well.
Hundreds of protesting doctors, medical students and supporters convened in front of Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydło’s office on Saturday, October 14th, in a show of support for resident doctors who have been on hunger strike at a Warsaw children’s hospital since October 2nd..
The strikers say health care budget is insufficient, demanding an increase in health care expenditure to a minimum of 6.8 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) over the next three years.
They also want a reduction in bureaucracy, an increase in the number of medical workers, an improvement in working conditions and a raise in salaries. Doctors also called for shorter waiting lists for patients, saying there are month-long waits for simple medical procedures.
The doctors had met with Premier Szydło and Health Minister Konstanty Radziwiłł, about which they said, “We felt we had not been treated seriously.”
The protesting physicians say they earn between PLN 2,200 and PLN 2,500 ($420) after tax reduction every month, working 80-100 hours per week. They also threatened that if their monthly salaries are not significantly increased, they would leave the country.
Last Thursday Poland announced plans to significantly increase spending on health care as a hunger strike by young doctors demanding more funding entered its third week.
Poland’s health care system is chronically underfunded and there are often months-long waiting lists for medical procedures. Minister Henryk Kowalczyk, in charge of economic affairs, said the conservative government would debate a plan next week to gradually increase spending in the health sector to 6 percent of gross domestic product by 2025, compared to 4.7 percent now. Deputy Finance Minister Leszek Skiba said the gradual funding increase would provide an extra 116 billion zlotys ($32 billion) for health care by 2025, while preserving financial stability.
I’m really curious what is going to happen and if the protest will bring some major changes in the end!
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