Polish resident doctors end hunger strike, announce 'harsher' forms of protest
PR dla Zagranicy
Polish resident doctors on Monday ended an almost month-long hunger strike over health spending and pay, but said they were ready to use other, "harsher" forms of protest in the future.
Jarosław Biliński (centre), a unionist representing Poland's resident doctors, during a press conference in Warsaw on Monday. Photo: PAP/Marcin Obara
The young doctors, who went on hunger strike in early October, told a news conference in Warsaw that they were ending their protest, but were not giving up.
"We are continuing to fight for our key demands, including increased healthcare spending" and improved working conditions, Jarosław Biliński, deputy head of a resident doctors’ trade union organisation, told a news conference in Warsaw on Monday.
He also said that resident doctors would stop the widespread practice of working at additional jobs, which, according to the young doctors, could cause staff shortages and a crisis in the Polish health service in several months.
“We will stop working an exorbitant number of hours ... and stop patching holes in the system," Biliński told reporters.
Health Minister Konstanty Radziwiłł said he welcomed the decision by the young doctors to end their hunger strike.
He added that “the resident doctors' demands have already been met or are being carried out."
Under a proposal recently approved by the government, healthcare expenditure in Poland is to increase to 6 percent of GDP by 2025.
According to Radziwiłł, the legislation will bring health spending in the country to its highest level ever.
Radziwiłł said on Monday a special team was analysing "what else can be offered" to the doctors.
More funds for healthcare
A dispute started on October 2, when a group of 20 resident doctors started a hunger strike in the foyer of a Warsaw paediatric hospital.
Resident doctors were calling for health expenditure in Poland to increase steadily until it reaches 6.8 percent of GDP by 2021. The doctors were also demanding a pay hike.
Last Wednesday, medical staff in southern Poland staged a protest in support of the hunger strike.
Radziwiłł has said that Poland should be more open to taking in doctors from neighbouring countries such as Ukraine and Belarus.