Doctors receive higher salaries, at least some of them

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As of October 1st, doctors and nurses in Czech hospitals should have received 10-percent higher salaries, as agreed by the Cabinet and doctors' trade unions. But not all of them have been given the pay-rise. Alena Skodova explains why:

Negotiations on the rise in basic salaries are still underway in many hospitals. Although the government and the doctors' trade unions made it clear that as of October hospital personnel will get a 10-percent rise, there is a problem--the health minister, Bohumil Fiser, said doctors' and nurses' salaries can only go up if their hospitals are operating on a balanced budget.

While all hospitals in Prague have increased their employees' salaries, many smaller hospitals in provincial towns face a serious problem. All hospitals should have received more money from health insurance companies last year, but many directors say that the money simply never arrived and only a handful of small and medium-sized hospitals have seen any budget increase at all.

One doctors' union has threatened to call a strike alert in hospitals, and others have promised to support their members in the process of negotiating with hospital directors. Czech doctors claim their wages are far lower than in the most advanced Western countries. Here's one Czech doctor, Miroslav Palat, who has worked abroad, who puts Czech doctors' salaries into perspective: