Head of medics' union: politicians talk a lot, do little

Even though the government has set healthcare as one of the priorities in the budget, it's not evident in financial terms, said Valdis Keris, head of the Latvian Labor Union of Health and Social Care Workers (LVSADA), in an interview with Latvian Television on Tuesday.

Keris stressted that the budget for next year will not improve the situation in the healthcare sector, and it is insufficient.

"The Health Ministry, employers and trade unions agree that next year's healthcare budget is insufficient and measures should be taken to improve it," said Keris, adding that talks about the matter have begun with political parties.

"So far the Latvian government has declared that the healthcare sector is one of the priorities, but it is not demonstrated financially," said Keris. 

The next year's budget priorities, nominally, are security, interior, healthcare and education, while the other ministries will have to cut spending by 3%.

LVSADA said earlier that instead of following recommendations of the World Health Organization and the European Commission to improve health care accessibility and quality, the government in the 2016 draft budget has allocated just 3 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) to the healthcare sector.

This is less than the financing allocated this year (3.1 pct), though in absolute numbers it is €12m more.

LVSADA has underscored that in the EU the average allocation to the health care sector amounts to 7.3 percent, while in the new EU member states it is about 5 percent of GDP.

According to OECD data, Latvia has the worst healthcare availability in the EU. Despite this, there are no extra funds allotted to reducing neither for reducing the patients' healthcare costs, nor for reducing the waiting lists in healthcare facilities.

There are no plans for increasing the wages for doctors, too, besides the small increase in Latvia's minimum wage.

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