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"Stop playing games with medical salaries" warns Latvian Hospital Association

An influential medical industry body is warning the government that promised pay rises for medical staff must be delivered in full if serious consequences for the sector are to be avoided. 

In a May 20 press statement the Latvian Hospital Association (LSB) warns that "instability of medical salaries, not even in accordance with the principles established by law, and uncertainty about the future negatively affects the stability of the industry."

"The fight for decent pay in the health sector has been going on for several years. In policy planning documents and settings, the health care system is one of the main priorities of the state, but in reality even the promises established by law are not fulfilled. The development of the industry is being hampered and the time of the global pandemic is further illuminating it. The limits of endurance of those working in the medical sector are constantly being tested, and now the faith in the principle of legitimate expectations has been lost,” said Jevgēņijs Kalējs, Chairman of the Board of the Latvian Hospital Association, on the consequences of a recent Constitutional Court judgment which effectively said the government retained discretion to backtrack on earlier promises of a 20% pay rise for heathcare workers for three years in a row.

On 13 December 2018, the Saeima passed the law “Amendment to the Health Care Financing Law”, supplementing the transitional provisions of the Health Care Financing Law with Clause 11. This required the Cabinet of Ministers to provide state funding for increasing the salaries of health care workers by 20% for three years in a row, but the amount provided for in the 2020 budget was not allocated in full. Last summer, Ombudsman Juris Jansons appealed to the Constitutional Court over the matter, and now, almost a year later, the Constitutional Court has ruled that when adopting the 2020 budget, the principles of the rule of law, legal certainty and good legislation have not been violated, so the non-increase of medical salaries in full was legal. 

"Fighting on the front line during the Covid-19 pandemic has not made doctors forget the promised and unreceived salary increases. Clear, traceable, predictable remuneration is very important, especially at a time when there is a critical shortage of doctors in the country,” said Jevgēņijs Kalējs.

The LSB was founded in 1997 and represents 40 hospitals at four levels: university hospitals, regional hospitals, local hospitals and day care hospitals. 

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