Healthcare workers might strike in autumn

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In solidarity with teachers, around 1,000 health workers participated in the protest on Monday, April 24. Ilze Aizsilniece, head of the Latvian Medical Society, has repeated her readiness to organize a strike in the autumn. The industry ministry hopes to prevent this with a clear plan for predictable additional funding for the health sector. 

“For a healthy and educated Latvia!” around 1,000 representatives of the health sector went on a protest march together with teachers on Monday. Health workers are annoyed by the annual uncertainty and political process of the industry's budget. If this doesn't change, a medical strike is possible, said Ilze Aizsilniece, president of the Latvian Medical Association.

"Latvia's healthcare funding has been reformed four times over the past 30 years. Just once in Estonia and Lithuania. Need to stop running around politically and remember that every reform costs money! [..] We are considering a medical-worker strike in September. Politicians need to change their attitudes instead of saying that we are nagging," Aizsilniece said.

This year's government budget spending is around €14.7 billion, with the health sector funding around €1.6 billion. The agreement between the Coalition partners is to achieve at least 12% of the general budget expenditure for the health sector. It would be around €1.76 billion, so funding currently does not reach this threshold. The measures provided for in the government's approved healthcare guidelines are lacking around €306 million in budgets this year. The possibility of achieving stable additional funding for health care is sought by the Working Group in the Ministries of Health and Finance, but a specific time has not yet been mentioned for the decisions, said Health Minister Līga Meņģelsone (delegated by the United List).

The representatives of the health sector organizations also stressed that the Ministry of Health plans are not opposed to their requirements and do not currently join the promise of the Education Workers' Union to ask for the Prime Minister's resignation. 

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