Four professional unions of medical workers in Estonia announced on Oct. 24 that preparations for a strike may be started if their demands to increase health care finance are ignored and a wage accord is not signed.
The meeting of the extended council of the Estonian Medical Association decided that if health workers' demands for increased funding continue to be ignored and a wage agreement is not concluded, preparations will need to be started for breaking off the accord on refraining from labor action, a press release by the union says.
The medical workers were referring to a meeting held at Tallinn's Mustamae Hospital on Monday, which in their opinion revealed that politicians do not consider Estonian residents worthy of good medical care.
"Health care is not a priority in the Republic of Estonia and the share of health spending in next year's budget will not increase despite the fact that Estonia has the poorest level of health care finance of EU countries and the shortest average life expectancy," the associations said.
Some 500 health workers took part in the meeting with coalition politicians. The minister of social affairs meanwhile didn't consider the topic important enough to attend the meeting, the associations said. Low pay of doctors and nurses, insecurity in the face of future and chronic underfinancing have led to the leaving of professional staff to other countries, which is putting additional strain on those who remain, having to work under huge overload.