As expected, the Hospital’s Association and the Medical Assocation failed in finding a way to archive the sensational strike started by Estonian health professionals on October 1st and left yesterday’s round table with the sole agreement of trying – possibly harder – once more during next Monday the 8th.
As reported today by the National Broadcasting, the Medical Association’s secretary general, Katrin Rehemaa commented the results of the talks held yesterday by saying:
“We did not reach an agreement whereby the strike could be terminated. The package of issues that we have on the table is really large. It would be too optimistic to expect that we could reach an agreement in one day”
She also added that doctors are ready to invest even more time and energy in carrying on with the strike in the nearest future anticipating that – as planned – the second week of strike will include also inpatient care in Tallinn and Tartu in the protest.
“We, the doctors, are guided by our main goal – to quell the outflow of medical workers in the future. And we are prepared to spend more time and energy for negotiating.”
Andrus Ansip: Top Doctors Earn Way Too Much Already
Going through what has been said and written during the past weeks does not help much on understanding which could be the key to let doctors go back to work and at the same time allow politicians not to fear the explosion of something much bigger right after that: as many categories of workers (teachers in primis) are tactically waiting for the right moment to hit on the same issue.
Prime Minister Ansip never tried hiding his strong opposition towards the possibility of accepting the requests coming from doctors as the 40 percent increase of nurses salaries and 20 percent increase of doctors salaries are well beyond what the country can afford.
This is what the Prime Minister declared on September 25th, when the protest seemed somehow still avoidable:
“I ask, from whom will this money be taken from? Will we cut pensions, teacher salaries, or are the wages of rescue workers and police too high? [...] It would have to come at the expense of patients, through either their wallets or welfare,” said Ansip in question hour in Parliament today.
According to the prime minister, doctors’ average monthly salary last year was 1,704 euros before taxes, well above Estonia’s mean of 839 euros, but health care officials have said the figure is only representative of those working overtime.
While calling for doctors’ pay levels to be made public, Ansip conceded that there are injustices in the sector.
“I think doctors are in different situations; intensive care departments, surgeons and cardiac reanimation specialists are probably overburdened and underpaid,” he said. “In some other fields, pay is much higher despite the fact that labor intensiveness is lower.”[Full Article]
Few days later, once it became clear that Estonian doctors were well determined on carrying their protest on, Mr. Ansip decided try once more to explain how the government could not meet the requests of health professionals holding a press conference well described yesterday by Baltic Business News:
Speaking at the government press conference, Ansip compared his income with that of the nation’s top doctors and said that it was beyond comparison.
Ansip was referring to a survey on total income of healthcare professionals that his office commissioned from the tax authority and which showed that if one takes into consideration all income including dividends and wages earned abroad, there were 212 medical doctors in Estonia who earned more than 7,500 euros a month in 2011.
Another 157 medical doctors earned between 6,500 and 7,500 euros a month and 429 medical doctors earned between 4,500 and 5,500 euros a month.
This means that more that half of Estonia’s 1,600 practicing medical doctors make at least 3,500 euros a month, with many earning much more.
Gaps in nurse wages are smaller, but there are still at least 1,300 nurses who earn between 2,000 and 4,000 euros a month.
Another 100 nurses earn over 4,000 euros a month, with most of them making between 1,000 and 2,000 euros. [Full Article]