Ex-minister proposes solutions for emergency medicine network

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Ljubljana – As some community health centres face staff shortages in their emergency medical care units, former Health Minister Janez Poklukar has proposed that all doctors of age up to 60 should join the system or else be stripped of their licences. The government has announced that the issue will be tackled after the local elections in the autumn.

Poklukar said in a statement for the STA on Monday that a solution to the issue would be involving doctors from all levels of healthcare, not only the primary level, in the system.

He noted that the current legislation allowed doctors to freely decide whether to join the system of emergency medical care units in community health centres, and that “given the rigidity of the wage system, it is difficult to expect them to work only on a ‘moral drive’ forever”.

Poklukar proposed that, in order to keep their licences all doctors of age up to 60 who do not have a justifiable reason not to do so should participate in the system in the proportion they represent in relation to all specialists in the region.

The former minister said this should apply to all levels of healthcare, adding that changes to the relevant rules had been prepared during his term, but had not been adopted by its end.

“Personally, I think that, given the lack of medical staff, this provision should apply to all licensed medical profiles, including registered nurses,” he said, adding that the dispatch service should also be upgraded.

It would be upgraded with an “emergency doctor vehicle” that would transport a doctor to interventions independently from the ambulance service, Poklukar said, noting that emergency care doctors were usually only “co-drivers” in ambulances.

“In such a way, a doctor would be available for more time to residents of an area who really need them, and at the same time work would be optimised, as they would be able to spend more time treating patients,” he added.

Poklukar noted that, during his term, the ten centres were joined by an emergency medical care centre in the Ptuj general hospital, and that the idea of a network of satellite centres in eleven smaller towns had also been discussed.

Incumbent Health Minister Danijel Bešič Loredan told the STA last week that the ministry would present a project to improve the network after the local elections, which will be held at the end of November, and that systemic solutions would be introduced next spring.

The issue was raised two weeks ago by the Kočevje community health centre, which said it was not able to ensure doctor presence in its emergency medical care unit at certain parts of the night due to holiday leaves and many absences.