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Doctors’ strike: It’s not only money

Eight out of 10 Czech general practitioners and paediatricians left their offices closed yesterday.

  • Autor: Respekt
• Autor: Respekt

Eight out of 10 Czech general practitioners and paediatricians left their offices closed yesterday. No disaster for patients – the doctors had informed people in advance through the media, in their offices or individually via telephone. The patients knew where they could turn for help. It is ironic – the doctors themselves can only dream on about being so well informed and taken care of.

Striking medical practitioners are nothing new in the Czech Republic and no longer attract the publicity they enjoyed several years ago. The last such action, in February this year, faded out even for the GPs themselves: Most of them came to work in the end and only decorated their office doors with notes declaring support for their “colleagues in arms”. South-Bohemian doctors distanced themselves from the protest altogether.

But yesterday’s strike was different, and not only in its scale.

Back in February, the practitioners demanded basically the same as they are asking today: Higher flat monthly per-patient payments that doctors receive from insurers. The GPs have long called for an increase, but it has never happened – this year’s CZK 36 [per patient] is only CZK 1 more than last year's. The demands have always been overshadowed by talk about the national health insurer VZP’s excessive debts and a need to save money on all fronts.

A lot has changed since February,…

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