Friday, 28 October 2022

A Week in Croatian Politics - Schengen, Slovenia, Ukraine and Nancy Pelosi

October the 28th, 2022 - This week in Croatian politics, we've had everything from insults, Slovenia's opinions on Croatian Schengen entry and wage increase proposals to healthcare reforms, Milanovic's latest actions, and Nancy Pelosi.

The Croatian Health Insurance Fund's HDZ boss referred to Croats as arrogant in his speech about healthcare not being free

The director of the HZZO, HDZ member Lucian Vukelic has referred to Croats as arrogant because "they think healthcare is free". The HDZ member at HZZO's helm also made sure to refer to himself as somewhat arrogant, too, just for good measure.

"We have a lot of relatives in America, as soon as you see them, they say: 'Thank God I'm healthy'. They say that because healthcare costs serious money in America. In America, you pay for your healthcare out of your own pocket. Our people here are arrogant, and I must say that even I was arrogant, people in Croatia say 'it's free'. It's not free. Healthcare in Croatia isn't free, healthcare in Croatia also costs money," he said.

Vukelic failed to really explain what the point of saying any of that actually was, but he seemed to imply that there is a widespread opinion across Croatia that healthcare somehow doesn't cost money. Moreover, Vukelic himself said that a third of Croats who work annually pay 26 billion kuna from their wages for basic health insurance, so they certainly know that healthcare isn't free.

Of course, there's also the question of what we actually get out of this healthcare we're paying for, which HDZ member Vukelic claims is expensive. It would perhaps be okay if, given that Vukelic is already more than happy to admit that we all pay dearly for our healthcare, he explained why every now and then people are forced to collect money for their treatment, why pregnant women sometimes have to take their own toilet paper to maternity hospitals with them, why the waiting times for often basic examinations are so long and why medical staff are leaving Croatia.

Only later, when asked by a journalist about his statement, did the HDZ member try to justify himself by calling himself arrogant as well, which is absolutely true, but it is also true that he called other people arrogant with the thesis that "our people say that healthcare is free", which honestly, they don't. When they see how much of their wage is shaved off for it each month, they definitely do not.

A man who takes home a monthly salary of over 18,000 kuna, who drives a 300,000 kuna Mercedes, who has an official car, who owned a 150,000 kuna 2001 Harley Davidson until 2019 and who claims his ''communication skills are excellent'' but makes sexist remarks on a TV show (Otvoreno) about women talking a lot should perhaps quiet down before calling others arrogant.

On the topic of healthcare, Health Minister Vili Beros has announced reforms to the system

Beros has presented his healthcare reform package, and it's extensive. Preventative examinations will be introduced, with pilot projects beginning next year in two Croatian counties, the number of specialisations in primary healthcare will be widened, there will be revisions for national preventative programmes for malignant diseases, a focus will be placed on melanoma, hospital system changes are set to come in, and there will be an emergency helicopter service fully established and up and running (or flying) by 2024.

This is just a little bit of what was presented and discussed. You can read more details in this article.

Are Croatia and Slovenia set to start falling out over Schengen entry?

The topic of Croatian Schengen entry is hotting up as the country's Eurozone accession rapidly approaches, but is neighbouring Slovenia ready to throw yet another spanner in the works? 

An expert in European Union law from the Faculty of Law in Maribor, Janja Hojnik, was a recent guest of Novi Dan on N1 where Croatia's entry into Schengen, among other things, was discussed. Hojnik noted that, as far as it seems, the Slovenian Government has not decided to block Croatia's entry into Schengen in any way.

"It has been determined that it is a mutual benefit for Croatia to enter the Schengen zone. The plan is for Slovenia to also ratify the agreement on Croatia's entry into Schengen," she said. She also commented on the announcement, which was published yesterday in the Ljubljana-based newspaper Delo, that Slovenia will issue a unilateral note stating that Croatia, by entering the Schengen area, accepts the arbitration ruling which was reached in the past regarding a territorial dispute.

"Recently, I was on Slovenian television and they asked two ministers for their comments on those statements and one minister said that it was all misinformation, and the Minister of Justice said that the Government hadn't even commented on it and that she knew nothing about it, that this statement should be confirmed in parliament, and there is no information from the Foreign Policy Committee about it. We can only speculate whether it will be brought to the Slovenian Government itself or to parliament. I think it would be a little unusual if it were inserted into the Act on Ratification. This is not the norm and the European Commission would probably ask Slovenia what it all means. I don't think that ratification with this condition is possible. I don't see any legal consequences to this. Such a statement can't be part of European Union law, and it doesn't have any legal consequences even in international law,'' explained Hojnik.

When speaking about the arbitration agreement between Slovenia and Croatia, she said that the task of politics is to resolve relations between neighbours, not to deepen them.

"I'd like Slovenia and Croatia to solve this problem themselves, without any external factors getting involved. Schengen is probably the last thing where Slovenia could have a veto. It is in Slovenia's interest that they aren't on an external border. I see it as the responsibility of politics to find an agreement,'' she said.

Plenkovic says he's going to regulate work on Sundays and raise the minimum wage. Again.

PM Andrej Plenkovic recently discussed the state of the economy, ongoing inflation, the consequences of the global coronavirus pandemic and of course, Russian aggression against Ukraine. Digitalisation and the green transition, two topics that keep coming up, were also touched on. Perhaps what attracted the most attention of all, however, were the discussions on banning (or should I say regulating) work on Sundays (remember that?) and of course, talk of raising the minumum wage. If you've spent any time following the domestic political scene, neither of the aforementioned and farily worn out topics will come as a surprise to you.

"We're going to regulate work on Sundays and the minimum wage will go up,'' says Plenkovic, who announced that his government would make several steps forward in both this and in other regards in the coming weeks. "We'll regulate work on Sundays and we've come up with a rational, well-balanced proposal," Plenkovic assured, adding that the minimum wage will also increase from next year to 4,220 kuna net, and a proposal for an additional tax on extra profits is being prepared in order to more fairly share the burden of the ongoing crisis. He also announced the continuation of the social dialogue with the trade unions, with whom intense conversations have been happening of late.

He noted that in just two months, the Republuc of Croatia will be among the fifteen countries in the world that are in NATO, the European Union, Schengen and the Eurozone, and that negotiations with the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) have been launched.

Plenkovic uses yet another opportunity to troll President Zoran Milanovic (SDP)

If you've spent any time in the City of Zagreb over the last few days, you'll have noticed that getting anywhere by road proved impossible for about 48 hours. The Crimea Platform Summit was being held right here in the Croatian capital, and for road users, the problems were very much in evidence. Plenkovic recently discussed how this extremely significant summit went, making no effort to hide his satisfaction with how it unfolded, and once again offering words of support to Ukraine.

It didn't stop there. If you follow Croatian politics, you'll know that Andrej Plenkovic (HDZ) and Zoran Milanovic (SDP), the Prime Minister and the President of Croatia, make sure to miss no chance to insult or troll each other, and this was no exception. Plenkovic made sure to make his feelings clear on Milanovic's earlier comments about Nancy Pelosi and the aforementioned summit.

"I think you're more than aware of just how important, useful and excellent an event like this that we organised actually is for the courageous, correct and moral foreign policy of the Croatian Government. This topic of whether or not someone went to Makarska just isn't the subject of my interest. He can explain that one himself,'' Plenkovic said, referencing Milanovic having gone to the aforementioned part of Central Dalmatia.

''I guess you can see who has been saying what over the past few years. I don't know what sort of rally he'll decide to go to, maybe he'll go to one Russia organises. Mrs. Pelosi didn't waste her time on irrelevant things, and neither did we," Prime Minister Plenkovic concluded, having made a very clear jab at Milanovic with the Russia comment. Gordan Grlic Radman, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, also touched on the topic of Milanovic, claiming that ''people are calling and asking what Croatia's position actually is'' in regard to the Russia-Ukraine war.

Nancy Pelosi praises Croatia for its humanity towards Ukraine and refers to the country as a leader in the diversification of energy sources

Nany Pelosi said that Croatia could offer Ukraine a lot owing to its relatively recent experience of war, and she also said that this country is a leader in the diversification of energy sources. Pelosi issued a warning that energy has become a means of blackmail in Russia's horrendous aggression against Ukraine, before thanking Croatia and Plenkovic for their leadership in the field of energy.

"Croatia is a small enough country to be resilient, but big enough to be significant in terms of security, democracy, peace and values," Pelosi believes, adding that the diversification of energy sources is helping to save planet Earth. Plenkovic said that with the construction of the LNG terminal on Krk, Croatia has now ''finally resolved" a four-decade-long debate in energy circles and that by deciding to increase its capacity, the government has "enabled Croatia to become an energy hub'' for natural gas.

Pelosi also said that the Croatian capital is the "perfect" place for the summit to be held, emphasising the very strong Croatian-Ukrainian friendship and the help that Zagreb continually provides to Kyiv as it goes through such terrible times.

For more on Croatian politics, make sure to keep up with our dedicated section, and keep an eye out for our A Week in Croatian Politics articles which are published each Friday.

Wednesday, 19 October 2022

Health Minister Vili Beros: Covid Cost Croatia Almost 6 Billion Kuna

October 19, 2022 - Health minister Vili Beros said that the current epidemiological situation in Croatia is relatively stable and stated that the total cost of the coronavirus epidemic is close to six billion kuna.

As Index writes, while reporting to the parliament on the measures taken by Croatia against the covid-19 epidemic from January 1 to August 31, 2022, Beros pointed out that for the sixteenth day in a row, we have recorded a decrease in the number of newly infected people per day. The drop is significant and perhaps unexpected because the school year has already started, said Beroš, but he also warned that the epidemic is still around us and we must be careful.

He added that the majority of hospitalised patients are still completely unvaccinated citizens or vaccinated only with the primary vaccine, which indicates the need to increase the vaccination rate of citizens. He also presented the information that the Croatian Institute for Health Insurance paid almost six billion kuna from compulsory health insurance funds from the beginning of the epidemic until August 31.

"Although it is a large figure in financial terms, it is important to see that it cannot be considered a cost but an investment in the health and treatment of our citizens, which ultimately affects the performance of other sectors such as tourism and the economy," said the minister.

State Secretary Marija Bubas referred to the problematic statements in the media about vaccination, which certain opposition parties support. "Protests by various interest groups with their destructive messages have not caused any political damage to the government, but they are certainly causing damage to our citizens, who are still weighing out if they want to get vaccinated," she said.

To the opposition's criticism that Croatia has failed in the fight against the epidemic with regard to the mortality rate, Beros replied that statistics should take into account the demographic picture of the population, comorbidity, and the percentage of vaccinated people, which is still insufficient. The representatives were also interested in how many vaccines were ordered, how many were used, and how much it all cost.

9.7 million doses were acquired, 5.3 million doses were used, 4.4 million doses were unused, of which 1.1 million were donated, and 426 thousand doses were destroyed having had expired, the minister stated. Vaccination against the coronavirus will become lifelong, that is, constant, and it is necessary to keep buying new doses, said Beros. He did not provide an answer about how much it cost, pointing out that the vaccine saves lives and that the price is not important in that context. "The government will pay for everything necessary to provide Croatian citizens with adequate medical care, including the vaccine, so I won't tell you how much it costs; someone else will answer. We don't pay for it from the system; it is procured through joint procurement by the European Commission," he said. 

The slogan should be changed from "get vaccinated, save others" to "get vaccinated, save the supplies," proposed Zvane Brumnic (Social Democrats). Beros also rejected Miro Bulj's (Most) claims that the Ministry of Health hides public purchases of medical equipment and vaccines like a snake its legs. "Everything is public and transparent, but there are elements such as the contract of the European Commission that do not allow us to communicate the price of the vaccine," he said.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated Lifestyle section.

Thursday, 28 July 2022

Health Minister Says Preparations Are Under Way For New Challenges In Autumn

ZAGREB, 28 July 2022 - Health Minister Vili Beroš said on Thursday that the experts form Croatia's COVID-19 crisis management team were making all the necessary preparations to ensure the country was ready to address new epidemiological challenges in the autumn.

"The expert group from the COVID-19 crisis management team is analysing the current situation and possible scenarios in Croatia and in the European Union and is planning further steps in the preparation of the health care system and the implementation of the vaccination scheme against COVID-19," Beroš tweeted.

Croatia has been experiencing a new wave of highly infectious subvariants of coronavirus that have increased the share of positive cases among those tested to as much as 30%, with the daily number of new infections exceeding 1,000, the Croatian Public Health Institute (HZJZ) has said. 

Omicron subvariants BA.2, BA.4 and BA.5 are currently in circulation in Croatia, mostly affecting people aged 30-69 while children are less affected given the current school vacation, HZJZ officials have told Hina.

The new wave of the epidemic in Croatia started in late June, when the share of positive cases in the number of tested persons started to rise.

The largest number of new infections has been reported in the City of Zagreb and in Split-Dalmatia and Primorje-Gorski Kotar counties, while Virovitica-Podravina County has the most favourable situation, with only three new cases having been reported.

For more, check out our politics section.

Sunday, 26 June 2022

New National Addiction Action Strategy in Final Stage of Preparation

ZAGREB, 26 June 2022 - Health Minister Vili Beroš announced on Sunday that the new National Addiction Action Strategy was in its final stage of preparation.

The main aspects of the new strategy will be presented at a round table on addiction-related policies in Zagreb on Monday.

"The price of drug addiction, which is paid by the citizens of Croatia and other EU countries, is very high, given addiction-related allocations for public health," Beroš said on the occasion of the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, observed on 26 June.

Drug addiction is one of the longest-standing threats to our society, directly and indirectly affecting the lives of millions of people, and the struggle against addiction requires a multidisciplinary and integrated approach at the national, local, and international levels, he said.

Within 30 days of the adoption of the strategy by parliament, the government will adopt an action plan for 2022-2026 specifying steps in the implementation of the defined measures, the Health Ministry said in a press release.

The European survey on smoking, drinking and drug use among students, cited in the press release, shows that Croatia is above the European average regarding the use of illegal substances among young people.

"Specifically, 21 percent of students said they have tried drugs at least once in their lives, mostly cannabis. As for the use of new psychoactive substances, Croatia is also above the European average, with 5.1 percent against 3.4 percent in the EU," the press release said.

Particularly alarming is the finding that 17 percent of 15-year-olds have tried marijuana at least once in their lives.

The negative trends in drug use and a dynamic market that produces new psychoactive substances at a great speed multiply health risks to citizens, which adversely affects the clinical picture of the nation, Beroš said.

He said that the National Strategy is consistent with the National Health Development Plan 2021-2027 and the reform measures promoting prevention and healthy lifestyle habits.

For more, check out our politics section.

Tuesday, 21 June 2022

Gov't Rejects Motion for Discussion on Vote of No Confidence in Health Minister

ZAGREB, 21 June 2022 - The Croatian government on Tuesday sent an opinion to the parliament proposing that it should reject a motion by 32 opposition MPs to discuss giving Health Minister Vili Beroš a vote of no confidence.

In its opinion the government comments on allegations from the motion, describing them as unfounded and noting that there was no ground to vote no confidence in the health minister.

The government also sent the parliament a final bill on cultural councils and on the financing of public needs in culture, which envisages combining the laws on cultural councils, financing of public needs in culture and management of public institutions in culture in a single law to simplify and more efficiently regulate the area in question.

It also adopted four conclusions to help residents of earthquake-struck areas, extending a write-off of electricity bills for customers in earthquake-struck areas until the end of the year. The total cost of the measure is estimated at HRK 8 million.

The government also extended the toll-free use of A11 Zagreb-Sisak motorway as well as free train transport for residents of the earthquake-affected Sisak-Moslavina County and employees of services participating in the provision of assistance and removal of the consequences of the 2020 earthquakes in the county.

The amount of road tolls not to be collected in the next six months is estimated at HRK 16.5 million, including VAT, and the cost of free transport by train at some HRK 12 million.

The government also instructed the HRT public broadcaster to write off TV licence fees for residents of earthquake-struck areas.

For more, check out our politics section.

Sunday, 19 June 2022

Health Ministry Decides on New Croatian Immunology Institute Location

June the 19th, 2022 - The much-talked-about Croatian Immunology Institute is one step closer to coming to fruition now that the involved ministries have chosen a location for the future facility.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Crnjak writes, through the joint efforts of the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Physical Planning, Construction and State Property and the Immunology Institute, a solution was reached by which the Rugvica business zone near Zagreb will become the permanent home of the new Croatian Immunology Institute, the Ministry of Health reported recently.

''In the context of legal challenges we faced with the previous chosen location, we've made a significant step forward in continuing this strategic project and have shown the strong will and determination of the Croatian Government, the Ministry of Health and the Croatian Immunology Institute to remain committed to revitalising the Immunology Institute as an important institution in this country,'' said Health Minister Beros on the occasion of this decision.

With this decision, the Municipality of Rugvica, as the owner, donates to the Croatian Immunological Institute, land in the Rugvica working zone - north, 69,761 m2 with a potential minimum minimum size of 20,000 m3 for the construction of an entire biological drug factory, the construction of a separate plant for antitoxins, and plants for the production of animal immunosera intended for both human and animal use with the primary purpose of producing antitoxins for the venom of European snakes.

This Decision was preceded by a statement from the State Attorney's Office of the Republic of Croatia, the Ministry of the Economy and Sustainable Development, and the Ministry of Physical Planning, Construction and State Property found no legal obstacles in terms of Article 391 of the Property and Other Real Rights Act.

The construction of the entire factory will begin in no later than two years time, while the estimated construction time to the stage of functionality is nine months from the positive completion of the public tender, ie the selection of all of the contractors by tender. The method of construction of the production plant will be prefabricated modular segments of clean rooms designed and built outside the building and connected and formed inside the building, preceded by a series of preliminary works, from obtaining the necessary permits, evaluating the conceptual design and final design of the main project.

At the same time, a public tender has been prepared for publication for the construction of a new biopharmaceutical plant for the production of animal immunosera, ie drugs intended for both human and veterinary use with the primary purpose of producing antitoxins for European snake venom.

As the Croatian Immunology Institute has permits for animal testing, as well as breeding permits, there are some basic preconditions for building a plant for processing hyperimmune equine (horse) plasma within the new factory, as a complete unit in one location, where the processing, filling and equipping would take place. The existing resources on the farm in Sveta Nedelja will be used for all of the above.

"The Croatian Immunology Institute is the flagship of our science and deserves all possible interdepartmental efforts. The easiest thing in the world to do is to simply declare the end and throw in the towel at the first sign of any obstacles that understandably appeared due to the complexity of this project. We've chosen a harder but more correct way of going about things, we've taken an additional step forward and together we've found a solution to continue the revitalisation of the Croatian Immunology Institute.

In order to restore its reputation and further position it on the international map of leading manufacturers of vaccines for various purposes, as well as other products in demand in this market segment, in the first phase, vaccines against measles and rubella will be produced, as these are products needed by both the Croatian and world markets,'' concluded Minister Vili Beros, adding that this country now the opportunity to meet the preconditions for its own production of antitoxins, which would make Croatia self-sufficient in the production of snake antidote, which is especially in demand during the summer tourist season when bites are more common.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

Saturday, 21 May 2022

Croatian Hospitals Costs Are Five Times Higher than Last Year

May 21, 2022 - The costs of Croatian hospitals have skyrocketed. Bills are up to five times higher than last year, so an additional 3.5 billion kuna provided to the Croatian healthcare system from the recent rebalance of the state budget won't be enough to cover expenses.

Even after the rebalance of the state budget, which will provide the healthcare system with an additional three and a half billion kuna this year, which means that instead of the planned 32 billion it will now have 35 and a half billion kunas, hospital directors still say that this will be a difficult year with much uncertainty due to a lot of unknowns in expenses, reports Index.hr.

Namely, the recent warning of wholesalers that debts for medicines continue to grow despite last year's injection of 6.3 billion from the state budget and that they reached as much as six billion kunas, of which four billion are due, is the reason for this early rebalance. Two billion is intended for Croatian hospitals, and one and a half billion for the Croatian Health Insurance Fund for the settlement of old debts.

Bills are five times higher than last year

For now, it is certain to say that 35.5 billion kunas for this year will not cover all costs, which is confirmed by Croatian hospitals bills from the first four months of 2022. They stand out especially for energy, food, and medicine, which in some cases are five times higher than in the same period last year. Therefore, it is not surprising that the losses of the system on a monthly basis are between 400 and 500 million kunas, which could mean a hole in the health fund of at least five billion kunas by the end of the year.

"Our costs increased in the first four months of this year compared to the same period last year by a total of 5.52 percent. But worrying is the fact that energy costs increased the most, by as much as percent, or from 7.8 to 15 million kunas. The cost of food products grew by 8.4 percent, and compared to 2020 by 40 percent, which is a huge increase'', said Dr. Alen Ruzic, director of KBC Rijeka.

Medicines haven't kept the previous numbers of consumption either, so in the first four months, they were 7.76 percent more expensive than last year, and by almost 20 percent compared to 2020.

In the largest Croatian hospital, KBC Zagreb, costs increased by 6.5 percent or HRK 71 million from January to the end of April compared to the same period last year, as it increased from HRK 1,099 billion to HRK 1,171 billion.

During the pandemic, KB Dubrava was a COVID hospital, so some data from last year jumped out of the usual amounts, such as spending on drugs, which were lower than spending in previous years when the hospital was operating at full capacity for all patients. But it is clear that this hospital pays for the largest energy guild, especially the one for gas.

For more, check out our politics section.

Friday, 20 May 2022

Beroš Ordered a List of Croatian Doctors with Conscientious Objection

May 20, 2022 - In an effort to dig deeper into the situation of termination of pregnancy in Croatia, Health Minister Vili Beroš requested last week a list of Croatian doctors who refused to perform abortions owing to conscientious objection. However, according to Croatian media reports, the Ministry always had this list and knew the number.

Last week, Health Minister Vili Beroš asked hospital directors to list all healthcare workers who invoke conscientious objection and refuse to terminate a pregnancy to determine if hospital functioning is compromised, reports Telegram.hr. The move gives the impression that the minister wants to do something after being embroiled in the controversial Čavajda affair but, as Jutarnji list reported in its print edition, Beroš already knew that more than half of doctors in Croatia have a conscientious objection.

When Jutarnji found out that the Minister had asked hospitals to list their employed doctors who have a conscientious objection to abortion, the Ministry did not answer their question, and Beroš did not answer the question of MP Anka Mrak Taritaš, who asked on April 20 how many doctors refused to assist women in the legal termination of pregnancy, which is something guaranteed by law.

Namely, out of a total of 359 hospital gynecologists in Croatia, 164 gynecologists agree to perform abortions/terminations of pregnancy for women until the tenth week of gestation, which is legally regulated and legal, and 195 refuse to do so. Beroš admitted this to RTL on May 9, two days before asking the directors of the country's hospitals to list their doctors with conscientious objections to performing abortions.

''Conscience appeal and termination of pregnancy do not exclude each other''

Beroš then said that in that case "outpatient gynecologists are to be hired in the requested hospital or in the nearest healthcare institution in accordance with the law.''

When asked by Jutarnji whether it makes sense to ask hospitals (yet again) for a list of conscientious objectors when they already know how many refuse to terminate pregnancies, and whether or not the plan is to do something so that women can exercise their legally guaranteed right, the Ministry sent them the same answer as they did to RTL more than ten days ago.

They only added that "they periodically collect data with the aim of actively managing the processes for the benefit of patients and that the right to abortion and to conscientious objection are not mutually exclusive and institutions are obliged to find conditions for exercising both rights." However, Mirela Čavajda could not exercise her legal right in Croatia, so she had to go to Slovenia for her abortion.

For more, check out our politics section.

Monday, 16 May 2022

Ministry: Procedural Omissions at Two Hospitals in Čavajda Case

ZAGREB, 16 May 2022 - The Ministry of Health said on Monday that a health inspection had been completed, with regard to the case of pregnant patient Mirela Čavajda, at the KB Sveti Duh Hospital and the Sisters of Charity Hospital in Zagreb and that procedural omissions had been established.

A health inspection by the Health Ministry was conducted at the KB Sveti Duh Hospital, the Sisters of Charity Hospital, and the KB Merkur Hospital. After the entire documentation was reviewed and talks were conducted with the employees of the hospitals, it was established there were procedural omissions at the KB Sveti Duh and Sisters of Mercy hospitals, and the health inspectorate will take further measures, the ministry said in a press release.

It was determined that the patient was provided with all available healthcare in accordance with the profession and legal provisions in Croatia.

Inspection also at private healthcare facility that provided pregnancy care

In order to establish all relevant facts in this complex case, the health inspectorate decided it was also necessary to conduct an inspection at the private healthcare facility where the patient was provided with health services during her pregnancy.

With regard to the irregularities at the KB Sveti Duh Hospital, non-compliance with the legal procedure of the first-instance commission was established, which was subsequently corrected and sent to a second-instance commission at the KBC Zagreb Hospital. At the Sisters of Charity Hospital, which the patient contacted via her attorney, upon making the first-instance decision, there was a failure to inform the patient of her right to contact the KBC Zagreb Hospital as a second-instance body.

For more, check out our politics section.

Monday, 16 May 2022

400 Croatian Ambulance Drivers Go On Strike

ZAGREB, 16 May 2022 - About 400 ambulance drivers and paramedics went on strike on Monday saying they will continue striking until their demands are met and their pay is aligned with that of drivers in the medical system, with shop steward Vladimir Markuš saying that the Health Ministry pushed them into the strike.

"The consequences of the strike will be visible already today and even more tomorrow. We are going until our demands are met, but unfortunately, the Health Ministry has literally pushed us into this strike," Markuš told Hina.

The strikers are calling for a regulation that would align their earnings at the country level because now their wages vary up to HRK 1,500 in some cases, depending on which county they are in.

Ambulance drivers are striking in several counties and cities.

About 400 ambulance drivers are on strike at local health clinics, while another 300 drivers at emergency medical centers in seven counties, who are not allowed to strike, are working to rule.

Markuš added that the only response strikers received from the ministry were that Minister Vili Beroš was "away today" and he had made a statement yesterday.

"The minister is calling for care for Croatian citizens who will not be getting their rights, yet he contributed to the fact that many people have not been able to exercise their rights. Patients have been waiting for MRI tests for up to a year and a half. These people are being deprived," Markuš said.

"We will not leave patients without care. Those needing transport will get it but those who are not urgent cases won't because only about 30% of drivers are working and they cannot handle all that work," added Markuš.

Markuš appealed to the ministry to resolve their problem so that the system does not collapse.

"We are waiting for the competent authorities to do their job and adopt a regulation on indexation. As soon as it is adopted, we will cease the strike," Markuš said.

For more, check out our politics section.

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