Association warns of possible emergency in Latvia’s hospital sector in 2019

The Latvian Hospital Association has warned that the hospital sector can find itself in a state of emergency next year because of the Constitutional Court’s ruling on the regulation for medics’ overtime work, the association’s chairman Jevgenijs Kalejs told LETA.

The Constitutional Court ruled in May that the transitional provisions in the Medical Treatment Law, regulating medics’ remuneration for “extended working hours”, are not in line with the Constitution. The provisions were invalidated, preventing medics from working overtime without receiving double pay for the extra hours.

Kalejs indicated that the changes in the regulation adopted in accordance with the court ruling had restricted overtime work, which could not only seriously affect medics’ wages, but also threaten provision of round-the-clock emergency medical services in hospitals.

Kalejs said that in order to ensure an interrupted provision of round-the-clock emergency medical services physicians and medical nurses work around 20 extra hours per week, but the new provisions limit the number of extra hours for medical personnel to 13 hours per week. Starting 2020, the number of extra hours will be further limited to eight per week.

Although the new regulation requires slashing the number of extra working hours, the heavy workload and increasingly severe staff shortages in Latvia’s hospitals makes complying with that requirement impossible, Kalejs said.

“The solution would be working in several places of employment, which the law does not forbid, but hospital employees are patriots of their job and want to work in one place of employment. The medics are ready to work regular extended working hours at their existing jobs,” Kalejs said.

The head of the association called for amendments to the Labor Law that would let the medics work regular extended working hours at their own free will.

The Hospital Association will report on the situation to the National Tripartite Cooperation Council’s sub-council for health care, the Latvian Trade Union of Health and Social Care Employees and representatives of the Health Ministry.

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