The draft of a regulation by the Minister of Health with regards to general conditions of contracts for medical services and the issue of including therein a raise for nurses and midwifes was the subject of a meeting held at the offices of Employers of Poland on August 10th.
All representative employers’ organizations and trade unions, as defined by the Tripartite Commission Act, as well as representatives of the Ministry of Health and National Health Fund (NFZ), were invited. Sadly, the Trade Union Forum (FZZ), which includes the National Trade Union of Nurses and Midwifes (OZPiP) and supports the raise, declined the invitation.
Viceminister of Health Cezary Cieślukowski emphasized that such a raise was needed, which was met with all parties’ agreement. At the same time, he assured that the solution adopted by the ministry – raises of 300 PLN to be distributed by the director of a given entity among a chosen professional group – is a temporary step. Eventually, correction rates, establishing minimum requirements for the number of staff in hospitals, are to be introduced. The average age of nurses and midwifes in Polish hospitals is high and low wages discourage young people from taking up this career path, as well as provide an impetus for emigration. However, there was no agreement as to how to regulate these raises and on the fact that some of the social partners were excluded from the talks by the ministry. According to unions, such actions of Marian Zembala’s ministry will lead to adopting bad solutions. Employers were also quite concerned, particularly as they will be the one’s directly implementing these changes in medical institutions.
Participants drew attention particularly to the fact that such a change would cause many conflicts in medical institutions. Today, in a well-managed hospital, the income of the staff is balanced with regards to their skills and tasks. Increasing the wages of a select professional group will cause the remaining groups – laboratory employees, physiotherapists and others – to put forward similar demands. This, in turn, means that additional resources will have to be assigned to balance wages, in order to avoid conflicts between professional groups. The fact that formally agreeing on the size of the raise with representatives of the nurses will not be easy either was also highlighted – particularly in large institutions, were many unions are active.
Moreover, the fact that the ministry wants to introduce these changes by means of a regulations raises further objections. According to lawyers, legal delegation does not allow such a move, as putting the raise among General Terms of Contracts is legally questionable. Therefore, the participants urged the Minister of Health to reconsider the manner of introducing said wages so as to prevent conflicts and provide an incentive for nurses not to emigrate – as this is what the eventual goal of such a change should be. The need for changes in education was also stressed.
Employers of Poland – as the hosts of the debate – asked the Minister of Health to remain open to introducing necessary changes in the draft of the regulation. They also assured of their willingness to organize another meeting after the conclusion of social consultation in order to discuss the final shape of the document.