Doctors warn health system on verge of collapse

Medical office - middle-aged male doctor greeting patient, shaking hands.

Ljubljana – Slovenia’s medical organisations have made an urgent appeal to citizens to do their best to avoid requiring urgent medical assistance over the next month or two, warning the healthcare system is about to collapse.

The pressure of Covid patients on the health system is so huge, patients at the moment can no longer get some of the services that had been available before, heard the press conference following a meeting of medical organisations on Tuesday.

Over the next week they expect the situation to aggravate so that doctors at critical points in the system would be simultaneously attending to two patients in need of a ventilator, as there would not be enough staff that can help such patients or suitable beds, said Igor Dovnik, the head of the Association of Private Doctors and Dentists.

Bojana Beović, the head of the Medical Chamber, could not rule out the possibility that doctors might need to choose who got intensive aid, a situation that she said was one of the hardest that could happen to a doctor.

She said staff shortages were acute. All the staff was mobilised at the moment to be deployed where is urgently needed, in particular intensive care units, which need highly qualified staff. However, despite an all-out effort to ensure suitable level of care, the capacities are already stretched.

“This is an alarming situation that we can cope with through maximum solidarity of all health workers on the one hand and solidarity of people on the other who will understand the situation and contribute to making the situation manageable in some way,” said Beović.

“Life is open, there are traffic accidents, accidents at work, other infections,” she said, warning the workload is bigger than a year ago when the country was shut down. “If we want a normal life, keep schools, the economy open, we must be aware there’s a price to this. We must do all activities in a way not to make that price too high.”

The organisations, including the trade union of doctors and dentists, called on everyone to do their bit to avoid needing medical aid over the next month or two, including by avoiding situations or activities that could result in injury such as sports or reckless driving, or risking getting any infection.

Dovnik urged everyone who have not yet got vaccinated against Covid-19 to do so, and recommended getting a flu jab as well. “I don’t think we could be so lucky to avoid flu two years in a row,” he said.