Czech GPs stage symbolic protest against poor financing and bureaucracy
GPs, outpatient specialists and dentists around the country held a symbolic nationwide protest on Tuesday against inadequate financing and excessive bureaucracy that is driving many of them out of business. They warned that the symbolic protest would be followed by a one day strike if the government fails to pay heed.
In the town of Žleby, with 1,300 inhabitants, doctors staged a mock funeral –a symbolic farewell to the private practice that is closing down next week. People from the town will now have to travel further afield to get medical care, which presents a big problem for the elderly.
Other small doctor’s offices around the country may follow suit. Hundreds of small doctors in private practice are considering closing their offices. They say excessive bureaucracy is stifling them and new regulations due to go into force soon will not be easy to meet. As of January 1st they will be bound to provide electronic prescriptions and as of March they will be expected to operate electronic cash registers. For many this has speeded up the decision to retire. Others are heading for hospitals. Tuesday’s protest is supported by the Czech Medical Chamber. Its spokesman Michal Sojka says the concerns of private practitioners are legitimate.
“We may face a further exodus of doctors and nurses in private practice next year. Conditions in hospitals are improving so the risk is there. But private practitioners are vitally needed.”
The Union of Private Practitioners says that unless things change for the better the whole network could collapse. It moreover points out that in supporting hospitals and neglecting small private practitioners the health ministry has been following the opposite trend of that in Western Europe where the authorities have recognized the importance of providing good and accessible outpatient care to the population.
And just in case the government failed to register the protest, doctors in private practice say they are ready to go on a one-day strike next week to bring their message home.