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Deputāts un ārsts Jakovins Saeimas sēdēs pilda pacientu kartītes

'Next!' – medical politician doubles up on parliamentary duties

A doctor's profession is one of the few that members of the Saeima can combine with a political position. In this regard, member of parliament and medical doctor Juris Jakovins (Greens and Farmers Union) has raised the combination of workloads to a new level. 

For at least the last half year, he has been spending the Saeima plenary sessions not debating with colleagues and opponents, but diligently filling out patients' medical documentation, LTV program De Facto observed March 3.

Asked about the matter by De Facto, Jakovins was perfectly candid.

"Sometimes I write when there are topics [being debated] that I already know about," the politician admitted. Asked if he had been writing patient cards at all the last Saeima meeting, he answered: "Maybe, more or less." 

"I'm used to listening and writing at the same time. I do both jobs at the same time," he explained.

Marking the second anniversary of the war in Ukraine, the Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, Ruslan Stefanchuk, addressed the members of the Saeima at a solemn meeting. Even during that speech, Jakovins could be observed filling out medical documents.  

Perhaps it is not surprising that he has a great deal of paperwork to contend with given that his family doctor's practice in Valmiera is the largest in Latvia, with 7,384 patients registered. The optimal number of patients in family doctor's practice in Latvia is usually around two thousand, though there is no bar to having more or fewer patients.

In order to get everything done, Jakovins says he gets up at four o'clock in the morning. 

However, time is clearly at a premium for the MP as he rarely gets up to speak in parliamentary debates. In the last six months he has twice debated the budget, and once – perhaps surprisingly for a medic – spoke to oppose a ban on smoking indoors.

"I haven't gone up [to the podium] often, but I have done it. Let's say there are worse people than me who don't go up to debate at all, but I think I do enough in the Saeima committees," said Jakovins.

If that is the case, his productivity when taking care of committee business must also be impressive. Last year, out of 78 meetings of the National Economy Committee, the deputy attended fewer than half. Jakovins has a better attendance rate – over 80% – at the Citizenship, Migration and Cohesion Committee.

He explains that he misses commission meetings on Tuesdays because he works at home with Saeima documents.

His practice as a family doctor is provided by his wife's company SIA "Kārvins". Until entering the Saeima, the owner of the company was Jakovins himself. In 2022, the company worked with a turnover of 798,224 euros and a profit of 78,704 euros, according to its annual report. At that time, the company had 21 employees, and – strange but true – in parallel with the doctor's practice, it started a garlic growing operation.

This year, the planned state funding for Jakovins' doctor's practice is 454,308 euros.

Jakovins explains that, given the large number of patients, he has to devote a lot of time to them: "I accept 100 people a day. Of course, I work very quickly, I entrust a lot to medical assistants." Jakovins considers the large number of patients an endorsement, saying:

"If they didn't like it, they wouldn't come."

However, carrying patient cards around while attending to unrelated matters could be a violation of medical documentation record-keeping rules.

Speaking in general about the rules governing the security of medical documents, Iveta Balode, the Health Inspectorate's senior public relations specialist, notes that outside the medical institution's working hours, the patient's medical records must be kept in a separate lockable room or in lockable cabinets.

De Facto speculates that taking patients' cards to the Saeima in a leather briefcase is hardly a place for storing documents in accordance with the regulations.

Family doctor Jakovins' dedication to filling out medical cards during the adoption of bills does not bother his colleagues from the Green and Farmers' Union. Harijs Rokpelnis, chairman of the Saeima faction of the party, believes that Yakovins is able to fully carry out his duties as a member of parliament, and makes a similar defense to the one made by Jakovins himself when asked about why he participates in debates so rarely – that there are others who are much worse.

"The way our faction approaches Saeima sittings is very responsible. If you follow other MPs from other factions, they are playing [video] games, enjoying videos, and so on. This is not our style. We come here to work," said Rokpelnis. 

It should be noted that the Rules of Procedure of the Saeima mention the duty of MPs to participate in the work of the Saeima, but basically the only requirement is to attend plenary sessions. It is up to each individual to be actively involved in the adoption of laws as they see fit.   

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