Health minister says government prepared for emergency scenario

Health Minister Leoš Heger said on Tuesday that in the event of a mass exodus of Czech doctors the government would have to use its emergency reserve funds to keep hospitals in the big cities operational. In the course of the past fortnight hundreds of dissatisfied doctors have handed in their notice, with some hospitals now at risk of losing up to 70 percent of their staff in the New Year. The massive protest was triggered by doctors’ trade unions who urged physicians to seek better paid positions abroad if the government did not increase their salaries threefold. Four thousand doctors have signed a petition indicating their readiness to walk out, but hospitals are still hoping many of them will reconsider. Minister Heger on Tuesday admitted that the health sector could soon face a serious crisis, with some hospitals unable to perform even emergency surgery.