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May 17, 2021

Healthcare system could enter coma on August 1* Doctors threaten protests over unpaid extra hours* The Health Ministry reacts

Starting on August 1, doctors want to freeze hospitals’ activity unless the Health Ministry pays them more for extra hours. Healthcare system employees are asking for hikes ranging from 25 to 75 percent and for them not to work continuously for more than 24 hours, according to a communique issued by the ‘Sanitary Solidarity’ Federation which has 12,000 members.

Trade union members started a petition that was signed by more than 700 healthcare system employees from all over the country in just a few hours. Doctors are advised not to sign the labour contracts pertaining to the extra hours unless they stipulate the following things: the right to a bonus ranging from 25 to 75 percent (25 percent minimum mandatory level); the right to all bonuses related to labour conditions and to the night shift bonus; the right to days off for individual labour contracts pertaining to extra hours; the right not to work continuously for more than 24 hours; the right to have at least 24 hours of time off after being on-call.

The Federation has sent this recommendation by email to 12,000 doctors in public hospitals and warns that if all of them implement it then the healthcare system will be blocked, an unprecedented situation in Romania.

According to a recent survey, Romanian doctors end up working continuously for over 30 hours: normal work hours (6 hours) + on-call hours (18 hours) + normal working hours (6 hours).

“Based on this data, we can estimate that the impact on the quality of professional life is negative, these peaks of activity leading to a high degree of fatigue. At the same time, if we accept the hypothesis of a drop in efficiency for periods extending beyond the normal work hours, the negative impact on the quality of the medical services becomes obvious, one of the variables consisting of the growth in the risk of professional errors,” a study launched on July 23 and authored in collaboration with the ‘Sanitary Solidarity’ Federation reads. The study is titled “Doctors on call. The current situation and the principles that can be used to modify the Regulations concerning working hours and on-duty doctors in public healthcare units.”


Health Ministry: Extra hours, only based on separate contract


The Health Ministry informs that the on-call hours that go over and above normal work hours will be based, starting on August 1, on a separate labour contract, after the ‘Sanitary Solidarity’ Federation expressed its dissatisfaction with this aspect.

“The on-call hours that go over and above normal work hours will be based, starting on August 1, on a separate labour contract and will be paid on the basis of the current legislation. The Health Ministry has started a dialogue on this topic with the Labour Ministry too, in order to make sure, further to the interest of the medical staff, that there will be no discrepancies when it comes to the payment of the labour contracts signed with health units. Early next week a letter will be sent to hospitals, clarifying the way these contracts will be written against the backdrop of the stipulations of Government Emergency Ordinance no. 20/2016, so that the process would take place uneventfully,” the Health Ministry informs.

The Ministry announces that it agreed, jointly with trade union representatives, on a working timetable that would see their demands included among the amendments that will be brought to Order no.870/2004, the legislative act that regulates working hours within health units.

“The Health Ministry is working at an accelerated pace on these amendments, and the reason is extremely simple, the current situation is not normal. So, once the demands and recommendations are included in the new form of Order no.870/2004, the document will be sent for consultation to all trade unions and the form agreed will be presented, as an act of decisional transparency,” the institution points out.

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