Polish doctors’ clash with minister shuts many surgeries
WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Tens of thousands of patients in Poland are without medical care after some doctors shut their surgeries in protest at new cancer treatment procedures.
The doctors say that the so-called “oncology package” that was introduced Jan. 1 and requires family doctors to diagnose and fast-track cancer patients will leave less time and attention for all other patients, endangering their health and life. A doctors’ union is threatening a nationwide strike to have the plan reversed and to demand improvements to the entire health care system they claim is inefficient.
Hundreds of doctors refused to sign the new plan and have kept their surgeries closed since Jan. 1, mainly in northern and eastern Poland. They are getting growing support from doctors across the nation.
Health Minister Bartosz Arlukowicz said Monday that only some 15 percent of family doctors shut their surgeries, while the majority of doctors were still treating patients.
Negotiations last year failed when Arlukowicz, himself a doctor, accused the doctors of ill will and of demanding more money for treating patients.
One in four Poles dies of cancer, often diagnosed late.