Health Minister Válek is trying to calm down thousands of doctors who are protesting against changes to the Labor Code.
An amendment that passed the House two weeks ago allows doctors to legally work 832 hours of overtime. So far it’s only been half that, or 416 hours. It is not only doctors who warn that this can lead to overwork or an outflow of medical professionals abroad.
Válek said on Sunday that this passage, which is part of other changes, will be dropped from the Labor Code. He added that he is ready, after an agreement with the Minister of Labor, Marian Jurečka (KDU-ČSL), to return the law – as far as doctors’ overtime is concerned – to its original state.
According to Jan Přáda, chairman of the Young Doctors’ Section of the Czech Medical Chamber, four thousand out of twenty thousand doctors serving in hospitals joined the appeal to politicians not to approve the amendment last Monday. They wanted to refuse to serve more overtime in December.
Which would be critical for hospitals, without overtime medical services they would not be able to function as they do today.
“That doesn’t mean we won’t hold services. In hospitals where doctors resign due to overtime hours, the operation will not be completely comfortable. The acute regime will run, patients need not be afraid,” declared Zdeněk Mrozek, vice president of the Czech Medical Chamber.
Critics of the status quo warn that overtime is making doctors tired – and this can affect their work. And on top of that, the current system is destroying their family life.
The Chamber approved the amendment to the Labor Code on September 12. Minister of War Válek said at the time that he did not expect that there should be any changes in the issue of overtime.
“Nobody can force them into it, nobody can force them to work extra overtime,” Jurečka said at the press conference. “But in addition to those that are generally stipulated in today’s Labor Code, the employer can, under certain circumstances, order them for certain groups of employees. Anything above is always a voluntary agreement,” he added.
Opponents of the amendment do not agree with this, according to them, they are forced to work overtime beyond this limit at workplaces, it is linked to their education and it is practically impossible to refuse it.
Válek also said on Sunday that it is about resuming penicillin production in the Czech Republic – it could start within a year or a year and a half. People have been dealing with a shortage of some antibiotics, including penicillin, for several months.
According to Minister Válek, the new director of the State Institute for Drug Control (SÚKL) Kateřina Podrazilová has six months to improve the situation with the availability of drugs. “I will be dissatisfied if nothing changes after half a year,” said Válek.
UPDATE: We have added plans for the restoration of penicillin production in the Czech Republic.