Nurses: Health Care for One Million Patients in Peril as of February

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Head of the nurses trade union Monika Kavecka speaking to journalists during a nurses' rally in Zilina on Wednesday.

Bratislava, January 28 (TASR) – A total of one million patients in Trnava, Zilina and Presov regions will be without proper health care as of next month following the mass resignations of nurses, head of the nurses trade union Monika Kavecka stated on Thursday.

“If the health minister [Viliam Cislak] claims the opposite, he’s deceiving, and it shows that he doesn’t care about Slovak patients,” said Kavecka, adding that the notice period for some 600 nurses ends in late February, and for another 100 nurses a month later. Nevertheless, there’s still time to come to some agreement, she claimed.

Certain hospitals will face a real crisis following the departure of the most experienced nurses-specialists – many of them from key areas, including anaesthesia and resuscitation departments, intensive care units and post-operation departments, said nurses chamber president Iveta Lazorova. It’s incomprehensible that while other European countries are looking for nurses, the Slovak Government is behaving as if Slovak nurses weren’t worth an agreement, she stated.

The nurses chamber and trade union still see scope for talks with the Government, however, said Kavecka. Prime Minister Robert Fico will have one such opportunity on Friday, when representatives of the two organisations will appear in front of the Government Office. Kavecka at the same time disagreed with Fico’s argument in defence of his unwillingness to provide more money for the sector. Fico said that you can cover yourself only with the bed cover you have. According to Kavecka, there are several ‘bed covers’ in Slovakia, but people in the country are obviously divided into “equal and more equal ones”.

Nurses, who have been unhappy about their situation for a long time, launched mass resignations in late November, after Parliament approved a bill on their salaries. The law entered into force as of January, even though President Andrej Kiska twice refused to put his signature to the document. Nurses complain that the law doesn’t take their claims into account. Meanwhile, minister Cislak has described the legislation as appropriate and the nurses’ move as a “protest against salary hikes”.

The mass resignations of nurses concern eleven hospitals – Kosice, Trnava, Presov, Poprad (Presov region), Trencin, Bojnice (Trencin region), Zilina, Dolny Kubin, Trstena, Cadca and Martin (all Zilina region).