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Doctors: Healthcare Ministry’s offered wage increase model is unfair

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budget 2020, Healthcare Ministry, Kārlis Rācenis, LVSADA, LIAA, wages, doctors, Valdis Keris, important, funding, healthcareHealthcare Ministry’s proposed model for wage increase for doctors is unfair is goes against the previously voiced desire to raise wages for all healthcare workers equally, said chairman of Latvian Young Doctors Association (LJAA) Kārlis Rācenis and Latvia Health and Social Care Workers Trade Union (LVSADA) chairman Valdis Keris.

Latvia’s Healthcare Ministry proposes increasing the the lowest wages of resident doctors by 20% and increasing the wages of other healthcare workers by 10% next year. The ministry has asked the government to conceptually support this proposal and decide on it quickly. This will be done on Tuesday, 12 November during a visit to Aluksne.

LVSADA chairman said this proposal was never mentioned at any of the Strategic Council meetings. According to him, this goes against the previous request for equal wage increase.

«Basically we consider this a classic move – divide and rule,» says Keris.

According to him, by promising residents twice as large a wage increase than to other healthcare workers, the ministry is attempting to separate young doctors from old ones.

«This is the first test of protesters’ unity in their requests for equal treatment of all healthcare workers,» says the trade union’s chairman.

LJAA chairman Rācenis says it is not bad to see young doctors supported. However, the chosen method is unfair, he says. He believes the ministry should not focus on residents or other specific groups of healthcare workers. Instead, he says it is necessary to think about all people employed in healthcare.

«Why are nurses worse than young doctors?» asks Rācenis, adding that such a proposal’s remuneration system will likely fracture the unity of healthcare workers.

«Those who speak the loudest should work to attract more, but this is not the principle we want. Our principle was that all healthcare workers were to be given equal wage increase, which was discussed with the government,» said the representative of young doctors, adding this is a legislative topic.

Rācenis stresses that «nothing has really changed» and that LJAA’s position remains unchanged – all medical personnel should be given 20% wage increase.

Although Keris admits he is prepared to discuss this proposal at a meeting of the Strategic Council, he stresses that the current offer is discriminatory.

Read also: Doctors urge government to postpone budget approval; prepare for strike

As previously reported, Latvia’s government plans to allocate EUR 60.1 million in additional funds to increase doctors’ pay next year.

It is planned to increase wages for people whose wages do not exceed three average wages in Latvia’s economy. In Q2 2019, average gross wage in Latvia was EUR 1 083, whereas net pay after taxes was EUR 799, according to data from the Central Statistical Bureau of Latvia.

On top of that, to ensure generation switch in healthcare and balance development of the profession in the long run and motivate students to stay in Latvia, it is planned to increase wages for residents by 20%, allocating EUR 4.04 million for this, explains the ministry.

Increase of the lowest wages by 10% would require EUR 48.2 million. This means the lowest wages will increase for doctors who perform state-funded healthcare services, the ministry reports.

10% increase is also planned for medical staff of institutions under Healthcare Ministry and ambulance brigades, allocating EUR 6.26 million for this. EUR 1.6 million has been outlined to increase wages for other people employed in the healthcare sector.

Healthcare Ministry notes that the report has been sent for coordination to the Finance Ministry.

Read also: Saeima speaker apologizes to doctors for making an unreasonable decision

In accordance with Saeima’s decision made in 2018, it was necessary to allocate EUR 120 million to boost doctors’ wages by 20% in 2020. However, now the coalition has concluded that approval of such a law was a mistake as there was no proper evaluation of financial resources to afford such an increase. Latvia’s government has since managed to find roughly half of the finances to afford increasing wages.

Organizations representing doctors and medical workers are understandably unhappy with this.


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