The amendment to the labor code that doctors are demanding was supposed to go to the Parliament last week. The Minister of Labor, Marian Jurečka (KDU-ČSL), and the Minister of Health, Vlastimil Válek (TOP 09), promised it. However, it still hasn’t arrived. The incorporation of doctors’ comments is being awaited, but they cannot seem to agree, especially regarding 24-hour shifts.
Ministers have been negotiating with representatives of the Young Doctors Section of the Czech Medical Chamber (ČLK), who advocate for the proposed changes. However, the Young Doctors Association opposes them. These discrepancies could jeopardize the amendment’s fate.
“The agreement among the groups of doctors on whether to allow 24-hour work is not entirely clear, so negotiations are ongoing in an attempt to reach a consensus that all groups can agree on,” said Vlastimil Válek, the Minister of Health (TOP 09), in an interview with Novinky.cz at the end of last week.
It is unclear to what extent they have succeeded. The Ministry of Health has stated that the amendment will be “submitted in the coming days.”
The Ministry of Labor has not provided any further details. “During the working meeting with union representatives and young doctors, which took place last Thursday (October 26), a large number of comments were raised. We are currently processing them and doing everything we can to submit the amendment to the Parliament as soon as possible,” wrote the Ministry’s press department to Novinky.
Last week, doctors had the opportunity to provide feedback on the proposed text of the amendment. While representatives of the Czech Medical Chamber, led by Jan Přáda, were mostly satisfied and requested clarification on one point, the Young Doctors Association rejected the proposal.
“In the legalization of 24-hour shifts, we see a conflict between balancing family and professional life and the principles of the relevant European directives,” the association wrote.
If such shifts were to be allowed, special supplements and “adequate compensatory rest before and after 24-hour shifts” should also be considered. The current proposal is considered “insufficient” by the association, even though it is based on the requirements of the EU directive. However, the chairman of the association, Martin Kočí, did not specify what he meant by “adequate rest,” as it has not been discussed yet.
Who is the Ministry Listening to?
Regarding whether differing demands from doctors could jeopardize legislative changes, Přáda stated, “I firmly hope not. Not only because we are an official organization under the Czech Medical Chamber, which initiated this action and was joined by 6,000 doctors. We rely on this mandate. Of course, different opinions can exist within the medical community, but the other side sees us as a negotiating partner in this matter.”
Přáda emphasized that representatives of the medical chamber are leading the negotiations. He believes the lack of unity among doctors is natural and does not see a problem if someone finds the situation confusing. He also emphasized that there is no data on why some doctors are demanding such long shifts and insist that it is unsuitable for them or the patients. “Even if the majority wants 24-hour shifts, it shouldn’t be that way if it is stated that the public interest is different,” he said.
The association does not advocate for any particular solution; they have merely expressed their opinion and are waiting to see how the negotiations between the ministries, unions, and the medical chamber will turn out. They have also sent their statement to the Ministry of Labor, although they have not received a response. They participated in an informational meeting at the Ministry of Labor last week but are not leading official negotiations.
According to the Czech Medical Chamber, approximately 6,000 doctors out of the 13,000 who have served them terminated their overtime.