Friday, 13 September 2019

Funds Collected to Improve Conditions for Children Diagnosed with Cancer

ZAGREB, September 13, 2019 - The Franco-Croatian Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Thursday held a fundraiser for a new, enhanced, unit for treatment of children suffering from cancer at the Department of Paediatrics at the Zagreb University Hospital Centre.

During the gala dinner held in Zagreb's Westin Hotel, the head of the foundation, which was set up to collect necessary funds for the construction of that unit, Anamarija Zorović, said that this project, estimated at 25 million kuna, was to the benefit all children in Croatia.

So far, some 11 million kuna has been collected either in pecuniary donations or in the form of work, said the head of the Zagreb University Hospital Centre, Ante Ćorušić.

Currently, the division of haematology and oncology at the Department of Paediatrics has 27 beds for patients, and the construction of the new section on the roof of the hospital's building will provide more amenities for small patients, the head of the division, Dr. Ernest Bilić has said recently.

Annually 120-140 children are diagnosed with malignant diseases in Croatia, and the division of haematology and oncology at the Department of Paediatrics mostly tackles leukaemia and lymphoma.

The survival rate among children hit by acute lymphoblastic leukaemia is 85% in Europe and in Croatia this percentage stands at 86%, which shows that Croatia is above the EU average.

In attendance at Thursday's fundraising function were Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, a few cabinet ministers, as well as some other distinguished guests. Plenković said that efforts to collect the necessary funds were praiseworthy.

More health news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Sunday, 1 September 2019

Hospital Staff to Briefly Stop Working on Wednesday

ZAGREB, September 1, 2019 - The head of a nurses' union announced on Saturday that on Wednesday the staff in several hospitals in the country would briefly stop working to warn citizens and the government that the situation in healthcare was untenable.

"We want to let our government and Health Ministry know and warn them that the healthcare system is indeed about to crash given the number of employees, working conditions, salaries, overtime and the absence of a collective agreement for a year and a half now," Ankica Prašnjak told Hina.

The drive, called The Eleventh Hour, is being prepared in relation to union negotiations on a branch collective agreement in healthcare and will begin around noon in one hospital in Zagreb, one in Dubrovnik and one in Split, she said, adding that staff would cease working for 15, 30 or 60 minutes, depending on the situation in each hospital.

Prašnjak said the drive would precede a strike, adding that citizens were aware that nurses and doctors were overworked.

"But we must draw attention in some way so that the work of nurses, doctors and all employees in healthcare is not trivialised," she said, adding that "it's necessary to raise our salaries and keep us in Croatia as we are one of the most interesting and in-demand professions in Europe, where we get very good offers of better working conditions and better salaries."

More health and medicine news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Friday, 30 August 2019

Central Management System in Healthcare Sector Presented

ZAGREB, August 30, 2019 - Health Minister Milan Kujundžić presented a Central Management System (CMS) for the national healthcare system, during his visit to the Zadar general hospital on Friday.

CMS is a central system of communication with hospitals and it collects information on a daily basis regarding all health indicators and data analysis and supports structural notices on hospital network sites as well as upgrading hospital invoicing, the Health Ministry said in a press release.

The system represents a positive step in exchanging and analysing data in the hospital system and the public health institute system and will facilitate the health system's operations, Health Minister Milan Kujundžić said presenting the system that was prepared jointly by the Health Ministry, the Croatian Health Insurance Institute (HZZO), and the Croatian Public Health Institute (HZJZ).

Considering the sensitivity of data that the system contains, it is equipped with the highest information security and data protection standards.

More health news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Wednesday, 28 August 2019

Additional 20 Million Euro to Be Allocated for Completion of Pula Hospital

ZAGREB, August 28, 2019 - Health Minister Milan Kujundžić on Tuesday said the government would find an additional 150 million kuna necessary to complete the construction of the new Pula hospital.

"Two years ago, the government decided to increase the amount by 300 million kuna for the new hospital in Pula and now due to price increases of building material and equipment, an additional 150 million kuna is needed. That money will be found and I am sincerely pleased that Pula will have a new hospital and better working conditions," Kujundžić told reporters outside Government House after meeting a delegation from Istria County.

Istria County Prefect Fabrizio Radin underscored that they had come across a lot of understanding from Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and the ministers of health and finance. "We will complete the hospital within a year to the benefit of all residents of Pula, Istria, tourists and all Croatia citizens," Radin said.

Pula Hospital's director Irena Hrstić said that she hoped that some new sections of the hospital would be ready to receive patients until the end of this year, as 75% of the construction has been completed.

She underlined that Pula will have a state-of-the-art health institution that will meet the requirements of residents in Istria county and tourists.

In late April, Kujundžić recalled that the government had to date ensured 100 million euro for the construction of the new hospital in Pula which was nearing completion.

More Pula news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Monday, 26 August 2019

Healthcare Unions and Government to Hold New Round of Talks

ZAGREB, August 26, 2019 - A third round of negotiations between healthcare sector unions and the government on Monday ended inconclusively over a proposed wage increase and the talks will resume on Wednesday with the unions saying that the government thinks it has bought some time with this move.

"These are not new negotiations but this is about an annex which has already been negotiated. I wouldn't say that anything important occurred at the meeting regarding employees' status. We are waiting for what is most significant, working conditions and salaries and that is still far from even being started to be discussed," Brankica Grgurić of the nurses' union said on Monday.

"Naturally, we will wait for negotiations on working conditions and salaries that will continue on Wednesday," unionist Stjepan Topolnjak added.

He underscored that their demands are still on the table and that "now they are going through some articles that need to be defined due to new members in the government's negotiation team."

"We will not insist on those articles that have already been agreed to but we will insist on those articles that regard the financial aspect," said Topolnjak.

He added that they insist on the agreed financial part which was initialled with Health Minister Milan Kujundžić.

"That is an increase of 7% -- 3% plus 4% -- and we will not back down from that," he underlined.

Asked whether the government has bought time with this and that the strike had been avoided, the unionists said, the government only thinks so.

More news about the health sector can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Tuesday, 20 August 2019

Health Sector Unions Preparing for Strike

ZAGREB, August 20, 2019 - Health sector union representatives were disappointed with the outcome of a meeting with the ministers of finance, labour and health in the Health Ministry regarding a planned wage increase and despite an announcement of the start of a new round of negotiations, the unionists seem ready for a strike action.

The union representatives reiterate that they will not back down from their demands that were initialled in a collective agreement with Health Minister Milan Kujundžić and that is, a wage increase of three percent for working conditions and four percent for life and health responsibility for all workers in the healthcare sector working in diagnostics and treatment.

The leader of the nurses' union, Anica Prašnjak stated that union committees would decide on the date of the strike and in the meantime, they will see what the government will put to the union at a meeting scheduled for Friday.

"The unions are planning a strike, protest action and an awkward situation in the health system because they consider that this delaying isn't leading anywhere. People no longer have any hope and we have to organise ourselves," she said.

The physicians' union will join the strike in support of nurses and other workers in health, said Igor Tripalo, the leader of the third largest health sector union.

Tripalo is disappointed with the outcome of today's talks and underscored that in addition to striking, physicians have the possibility of rescinding their agreement to work more than 48 hours a week as a sign of protest.

Health Minister Milan Kujundžić said that negotiations have formally been returned to the start but that he expects healthcare workers to eventually be given a wage increase. He said that a proposed negotiation team would be proposed to the government today so that negotiations can continue on Friday and hopes that everything will be resolved by October 31.

"I think that in the end, Croatian physicians, nurses and all workers need to receive a higher wage if we want to keep them in Croatia,", he said.

Kujundžić thanked the unions for their understanding, modesty and fairness.

Disappointed with the outcome of today's meeting union leader Stjepan Topolnjak said that the unions had expected to launch the negotiations today and that the unions will remain steadfast in that the initialled collective agreement remains to be the starting position for negotiations.

More health sector news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Monday, 19 August 2019

Health Sector Unions Insist on Wage Increase

ZAGREB, August 19, 2019 - Ahead of a meeting with Health Minister Milan Kujundžić, the head of the Independent Union in Health and Health Insurance, Stjepan Topolnjak, on Monday said that the unions would not back down from demanding a wage increase that was agreed to during collective negotiations.

"We want to get what we initialled - a wage increase of three percent for working conditions and four percent for life and health responsibility for all workers in the healthcare sector working in diagnostics and treatment, which amounts to 400 million kuna a year," Topolnjak told Hina.

Union representatives are expected to resume the talks with Kujundžić on Tuesday to discuss starting positions after a previous round of negotiations collapsed whereby a 3% wage increase as of 1 August and a 4% increase as of 1 October this year was on the table.

"If the government does not accept that and has a hidden agenda, our demands will be higher. We expect Kujundžić to present the government's stance and what we can expect. We want negotiations to be held at such a pace that they be concluded by 15 September and if that does not occur, our committees will decide to launch union action," Topolnjak said.

The leader of the nurses' union, Anica Prašnjak expects a definite answer from the health ministry and what the government has decided to do to deal with the needs of people employed in the health sector, primarily nurses and doctors who are in high demand on the European market.

Health Minister Milan Kujundžić has announced that he will ask the unions to have patience and wait for about 15 to 20 days so that the Finance Ministry can make some calculations and for the government to come to an agreement. He is convinced that the government will make a decision on a wage increase within a month's time.

He underscored that a wage increase in the health sector of 3+4 percent is the "bare minimum" that needs to be accepted so that physicians and nurses stay in Croatia and added that he was grateful that the unions did not go on strike during the tourist season.

An agreement was signed in the Health Ministry on July 31 to extend the Collective Agreement for workers in health and health insurance with two unions however the government did not accept an initialled wage increase for 72,000 workers in the system and instead announced further negotiations.

More health news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Friday, 16 August 2019

How Many Physicians Work in Croatia? No One Knows

ZAGREB, August 16, 2019 - There are 15,047 physicians employed in the Croatian health system according to data from the Croatian Institute of Public Health (HZJZ), while the Croatian Medical Chamber (HLK) says that its statistics show that 13,613 doctors are currently hired in Croatia, the Večernji List daily said in an article in its issue on Friday.

Thus, the discrepancy between these numbers is 1434, which prompted the daily newspaper to ask the HLK about that.

The chamber insists that it provides figures about the currently employed doctors and those 13,613 include 271 retired doctors who work now four hours per working day.

The daily says that it could not obtain the answer from the HZJZ whose statistics referred to the number of employed physicians at the end of 2018.

The HZJZ data also show that the number of employed doctors in 2018 rose by 200 in comparison to 2017.

The daily also says that the HZJZ data mean that Croatia has one doctor per 272 inhabitants, which is around the European average.

According to data provided by the European Union's statistical office in September last year, the number of physicians per 100,000 inhabitants is the highest in Austria, 509.7, while Croatia has 319.1 doctors per 100,000 inhabitants,

Bulgaria is the EU country with the largest number of dentists in relation to the overall population, 105.1 per 100,000 inhabitants, while Croatia has 79.5 dentists per 100,000 inhabitants, which puts it in the upper part of the rankings. Poland has the lowest ratio - 33.2 dentists per 100,000 inhabitants.

Life expectancy in Croatia is 78.2 years, which is slightly below the EU average as the expected average life span in the EU is 81 years.

More medical news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Wednesday, 14 August 2019

Higher Salaries for Healthcare Workers

ZAGREB, August 14, 2019 - Health Minister Milan Kujundžić said on Wednesday that the government would find a way to increase healthcare workers' salaries by four percent, asking healthcare workers for understanding as salaries could not be increased more, while unions of healthcare workers said they would not give up on their demand for a wage increase and could not rule out a strike.

Kujundžić said that the unions had negotiated in the most fair way, with their demands regarding the wage increase being modest.

"I believe the government will find a way to increase the salaries of healthcare workers by 4% and I hope those workers will understand that currently their salaries cannot go up more," said the minister.

"The current delay is only due to the need to make adjustments in the budget and due to possible requests for a wage increase in other sectors. The government has understanding. We must keep our doctors and nurses who are very much sought-after in Europe," the minister said, adding that the problem would be resolved in the coming weeks.

The leader of the SSZSSH union of healthcare and welfare workers, Stjepan Topolnjak, said that unions would not give up on their demands, noting that he also could not rule out a strike.

Unions in the healthcare sector expect salaries in that sector to go up by 3% in August and by 4% in October.

Topolnjak said that negotiations on higher salaries had lasted for a year and a half.

"The government still does not realise that medical workers are leaving the country in search of better work conditions and that there is already a shortage of medical staff," he said.

He added that he expected specific figures on funds to be allocated to the healthcare sector to be put on the table at talks set for August 20.

Talks on higher salaries in the health sector should not depend on similar talks with other public services, he said, recalling that salaries in the education sector would go up by 4% in October and by 2% in January 2020.

"The government must know that there is not enough personnel in the health system, that people are emigrating, not only medical workers but non-medical workers as well. There is no time to lose," Topolnjak said.

More news about the healthcare system can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Wednesday, 14 August 2019

Police Launches Probe after Doctor's Refusal to Give Them Driver's Medical Records

ZAGREB, August 14, 2019 - The Interior Ministry stated on Tuesday evening that an investigation was launched into a family doctor in the case of the drugged driver who caused the 11 July traffic accident with casualties after she refused to provide the police with medical records of her patient.

After media allegations about the doctor being fined for having failed to report the medical condition that affected the 35-year-old man`s driving ability, the police find it necessary to clarify that the investigation had been launched against the doctor after she refused to give the police the documentation in connection with that patient, citing the medical confidentiality.

The doctor was fined 5,000 kuna.

As for the duty of doctors to report to the police changes in medical conditions of their patients that may affect their driving abilities, the police said that in 2018, they had received 821 reports of that kind and 897 in 2017.

In the first half of this year, the police received 742 reports from doctors about the change in the health condition of their patients that may affect their driving ability.

The KoHOM federation of family doctors said on Monday that it would advocate the introduction of periodic checkups for drivers to make those aged below 65 undergo medical exams every ten years and those above 65 every five years.

The federation also called on its members to report to police any change in the health condition of their patients that may affect their driving ability.

The proposal for obligatory periodic medical examinations ensued after the 11 July traffic accident in which a three-member Hungarian family was seriously injured at a toll gate on the A4 motorway near Sveta Helena when the BMW driven by the drug addict ran into them at high speed.

Several days after the accident, the office of the family doctor whose patient the driver was, was searched by the police as part of an investigation into the crash.

This prompted the federation of family doctors to recall that the legislation on traffic safety envisages that doctors are obliged to report to the police any case of inability of drivers-patients to drive safely when it is detected during a medical checkup or treatment.

The legislation, however, does not specify which medical conditions should be reported, which puts family doctors in a difficult position, underscores KoHOM, citing a long list of medical conditions that may theoretically be regarded as risks for safe driving.

More medical news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

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