Croatia launches talks on changes to the health insurance sector
The Croatian government decided at its session to launch negotiations on new changes to the collective agreement for the health and health insurance sectors, explaining that the payment of duty hours in hospitals was generating high costs for the health system.
Health Minister Rajko Ostojic said that the negotiations were being proposed primarily for the sake of regulating the issue of duty hours.
Under the government’s proposal, negotiations would be relaunched only three months after the collective agreement was signed with two representative trade unions on 2 December 2013. The unions in question were the Union of Health Sector Workers and the Nurses’ Union, while the Croatian Doctors’ Union, which organised a two-month strike in hospitals before the signing of the agreement, refused to sign the document, mostly because it was dissatisfied with the way hours spent on duty and on stand-by were calculated.
The government said that being on duty meant that a worker had to be present in a medical institution after the institution’s normal working hours.
If hours spent on duty are within the regular monthly amount of working hours, they are paid for as normal work, while time spent on duty that exceeds the regular monthly amount of working hours is paid for as overtime.
Such regulation generates high costs for the health system, the government said, adding that in the next short-term period, until GDP starts to grow, funds for the payment of duty hours should be reduced to make it possible for medical institutions to pay their workers for hours spent on duty without exceeding their financial limits.
Due to problems with payments for duty hours and adjustment to EU practices, the Health Ministry at the beginning of this year introduced duty hours in hospitals, which provoked a lot of dissatisfaction among hospital doctors.