In the spring, the assessment of extra pay for medical workers was very different. In April, for example, in Riga East Hospital (RAKUS), two employees were paid extra 50% of their salary, an average of €406, but others got an average of €144.
In the emergency services, the bonus ranged from a few dozen euros to €167, an average of €107 in the Cēsis Clinic, while, for example, at Children's Clinical University Hospital it was only €46, Sigulda Hospital – €18, while Liepaja Regional Hospital – only five euros.
Such differences stemmed from the formula of the National Health Service – the percentage was calculated on the basis of direct contact with the COVID-19 patient, despite the fact that preparations and precautions had to be taken at all times during shift.
With this approach, €5.6 million were spent instead of the eight million reserved. But due to the detailed records, the hospitals got that money only at the end of the summer, because the money was transferred only after all the data were collected.
Some hospitals indicated that the requirement to list hours and minutes for employee contact with COVID-19 patients was a disproportionate burden. The head of the Latvian Hospital Association, Jevgēņijs Kalējs, concluded: “I think the main reason was distrust in hospital managers, that they give inaccurate data, that they want more money for their employees.”
Deputy State Secretary of the Ministry of Health Āris Kasparāns acknowledged that there are things that need to be improved. This spring approach has been overly bureaucratic, so now the amount of aid has changed, with more workers getting a 50% extra, and the calculation has been made easier.
Currently, extra pay is promised by the end of the year. It is true that the government has provided funding only for October. The remainder will be allocated at the beginning of next year, from the contingency budget for 2021. The Ministry of Health has no doubt that this money, although not accounted for, will be available. It is also promised by the Ministry of Finance.
“There is no question here at all that such funding might not exist, no one even discusses such a situation. In January there will be additional funds,” said Ministry of Finance spokesman Aleksis Jarockis.
This does not mean that the debate on extra pay is over. Unsolved is the issue of the size of the premiums in hospital admissions departments, as they are 30% in large hospitals and 20% in the smaller ones.
“It was also said by hospital leaders that it is a little discriminating that, while working in the same conditions, there is different pay in the admissions departments,” said Jevgēņijs Kalējs. The Ministry of Health could review this division.