«Actual doubling of wages to assist obstetricians would cost the budget EUR 4.5 million annually. Compare this amount with the millions and billions tossed away to ‘save’ Liepājas metalurgs, Parex Bank, airBaltic and other companies,» the board of Latvian Medical Association expresses shock.
LMA has turned to the country’s high-rank officials with a request to immediately resolve the dramatic situation in Latvia’s maternity hospitals.
«Riga Maternity Hospital mainly assists the capital’s residents. EUR 4.5 million means three new trams of the 20 Riga City Council has decided to procure in order to develop tram traffic through the Big Cemetery,» LMA’s board says.
LMA reminds the government and Riga City Council – the situation at Riga Maternity Hospital is evidence to discrimination against women in Latvia. 80% of obstetricians are women. There is legal asymmetry that exists among service providers and customers. The existence of this asymmetry is political. Wages of doctors has not reached its pre-crisis level even though Latvian doctors are the ones the country has to thank for carrying the bulk of the burden.
«The maternity hospital catastrophically lacks specialists. Job advertisements have been put up, but there have been no applicants in the past two years. Often there is only one certified doctor to watch over maternity wards,» LMA explains the situation.
LMA has information that often operating gynaecologists are called from Riga Eastern Clinical University Hospital, because it is not possible to cover all maternity wards if one of the gynaecologists at Riga Maternity Hospital goes on vacation. We would like to add that the maternity hospital processes more than 7,000 births out of 20,000 in the country.
«Let’s be honest – the maternity hospital only continues to exist because many young mothers are prepared to pay extra for family wards and epidural anaesthesia. Extorting money from maternity hospitals is not a state policy. Mother and child health is one of the government’s priorities only on paper. In reality, Riga Maternity Hospital would have gone bankrupt a long time ago without extra fees paid by mothers. It’s not a problem of the maternity hospital, but rather the result of nihilism from the government,» LMA board expresses its opinion.
The association notes that maternity wards in Latvia are paid EUR 346 for physiological childbirth, whereas the actual cost, considering the use of infrastructure, medicine and wages, is EUR 465. For pathological childbirth, the National Health Service pays EUR 499 (actual cost is EUR 652). EUR 613 is paid for caesarean even though the actual cost is EUR 842.
«Because of that, childbirth assistance functions at Latvian hospitals are financed from other hospital functions. Riga Maternity Hospital suffers losses from each birth. Obstetricians are paid EUR 5.05 for each hour of work before taxes, which is significantly less than average persons employed in national economy. Even overtime pay is the same,» LMA notes.
Latvian Medical Association warns – «any attempts to put off resolving the problem with wages of obstetricians will cause a deep crisis for residents and the entire healthcare sector, which will not increase the popularity of the government and Riga City Council. It will, however, create obstacles for accessibility of healthcare in the country and once again demonstrate the inability of Latvian politicians to secure basic human rights guaranteed by the Constitution – minimal medical assistance.»