Doctors unhappy with blanket ban on work for private providers

Ljubljana – Doctors strongly oppose the announcement in the draft coalition agreement that doctors in the public sector will be fully banned from working for private providers. Nurses, on the other hand, have welcomed an announcement of better pay and of a new set of standards and norms for staffing and workload.

While the powerful FIDES trade union has yet to study the document, the Medical Chamber and Young Doctors believe the blanket ban is not a solution to the problems in the country’s healthcare and could even encourage more doctors to leave the public health system.

Restricting the scope and organisation of the work of doctors with bureaucratic measures when there is a shortage of at least 1,000 doctors could further affect the capacity of the Slovenian healthcare system, the chamber said on Monday.

It said the current restrictions already reduce the interest of doctors in working in public health services while the latest proposal would put them at a great disadvantage compared to other public employees.

Young Doctors said “every doctor who carries out an examination, surgery or gives an opinion is reducing waiting times – regardless of when they do it,” they told STA.

The organisation noted that conditions to work for private providers while being employed at a public health organisation are already clearly set down and the scope is limited. At the same time, working conditions and pay in public healthcare cannot even be compared with private providers.

The doctors’ view that the ban would be discriminatory to doctors in comparison with some other groups was upheld by jurist Nataša Pirc Musar.

She noted that under the existing legislation, doctors must obtain a permission from their employer before starting working with another employer.

Pirc Musar therefore urged better oversight, and clearer guidance so that public providers know under what conditions they can approve work for private providers.

Nurses meanwhile reacted more positively to what the draft coalition agreement envisages for them – the adoption of staffing standards and norms as set down in the 2018 strike agreement, the elimination of wage disparities, rewarding good performance, scholarships for secondary and tertiary education, and less administrative work.

The Chamber of Nurses and Midwives and the Trade Union of Health and Social Care are particularly happy with the announcement of the staffing standards and elimination of pay disparities.

The chamber’s head Monika Ažman told the STA that they see it as “the step in the right direction”. She noted however that until pay for nurses become competitive, staff will continue to leave the public health system and young people will not be deciding to study to become nurses or midwives.