RIGA - Latvian Association of General Practitioners yesterday sent a letter to Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis, Ombudsman Juris Jansons and Health Minister Ingrida Circene, demanding that the minister step down and explaining that the call for the minister's resignation is due to the pending amendments to the Cabinet regulations on general practitioners' work.
"Health Minister Ingrida Circene, after more than one year in office, has still not developed an adequate strategy for the development of primary health care. The health policy pursued by the minister is dangerous to society and degrading to primary health care, therefore we are demanding the minister's resignation," says the association's letter.
The association objects to several new provisions envisaged in the amendments, which deal with the employment of two nurses by general practitioners, salaries for ambulance crews, and steeper criteria for the evaluation of general practitioners' performance.
Regardless of the association's protests, the Health Ministry insists on increasing the minimum requirements on the evaluation of general practitioners' work, which may result in GPs striving to meet criteria for the control of certain diseases, not solving every individual patient's problems, believes the association.
Last Friday, the Association of General Practitioners decided that it would demand Circene's resignation. General practitioners oppose the pending amendments to the law and Cabinet regulations, which stipulate new quality criteria but no additional state funding.
On the other hand, Circene said in a television interview at the beginning of the week that no new functions would be assigned to general practitioners. All the criteria on general practitioners have always been part of general practitioners' work, except that part of these criteria is not obligatory at the moment, and only 10 percent of general practitioners work in accordance with these criteria - therefore patients of the other general practitioners are being discriminated against, said Circene.
As to general practitioners' opinion that the new compulsory criteria should be accompanied by additional state funding, Circene remarked that everyone in the healthcare sector would like to receive larger state financing.
The disputed amendments were endorsed at a meeting of state secretaries on November 15. The review of the amendments will continue this week, after which they will be submitted to the Cabinet of Ministers.