Family physicians won't sign deal and will continue strike, but in a different form

  • 2017-07-18
  • LETA/TBT Staff

RIGA - The Latvian Association of Family Physicians has rejected the latest deal proposed by Prime Minister Maris Kucinskis (Greens/Farmers) and Health Minister Anda Caksa and will carry on with their strike, but in a different form, the association’s head Sarmite Veide told journalists today.

“Upon reading the proposals we saw that nothing has changed and that even those proposals that had been agreed at our meeting have not been included. We are not going to accept this deal and will not sign it,” said Veide.

She added, however, that considering the situation with their patients, the physicians had decided to change the form of their protest. “We are continuing our strike, but we are changing its form,” said Veide.

Earlier today, the government sent the Latvian Association of Family Physicians its latest proposals, calling on to reach an agreement with the premier and the health minister tomorrow.

Representatives of the Health Ministry said that under the draft agreement Kucinskis and Caksa would be obliged to ensure a pay raise for medical staff, which would include an increase in capitation for family physicians as of January 1, 2018.

Under the agreement proposed by the government, the monthly capitation for family physicians would be raised by EUR 150 for meeting certain quality requirements. The family physicians would have to improve their job performance by January 1, 2018 qualify for increased capitation.

The Health Ministry announced earlier that an increase of capitation money to family physicians could be ensured by including a new quality criterion. Health Minister Anda Caksa said after the meeting of the health care sector’s strategic council that additional EUR 2 million could be allocated for the purpose.

Last Wednesday, Caksa, Kucinskis and Veide failed to reach an agreement on ending the family physicians’ ongoing strike.

Veide said that she does not support inclusion of quality criteria in the capitation money because quality criteria is another chance for medics to earn more money. „The association believes that quality criteria should be separated from capitation, this is the situation in all European countries. Quality criteria are a bonus and are not mandatory,” she said. Over 600 family physicians in Latvia went on a strike at noon on July 3 and will not be providing any government-funded health care services to their patients until an agreement is reached with the Latvian government on the demands by the family physicians.

One of the family physicians’ demands is to raise the present capitation by 30 percent, while the Health Ministry has proposed to increase the wage that is included in the capitation money. Family physicians not only receive wage for their work, but they also run their practice, therefore the capitation includes administration costs.