Bulgaria’s Health Minister Tanya Andreeva said on August 22 that reports about the ministry’s plans to cut 10 per cent of the staff at subordinate services funded by the ministry were not true.
A day earlier, one of Bulgaria’s two largest organised labour blocs, the Confederation of Independent Trade Unions in Bulgaria (CITUB), said that the Health Ministry had demanded that 10 per cent of the staff at such institutions – which include the ambulance service, blood donation centres, health inspectorates and psychiatric asylums, among others.
CITUB said that the demand was made without giving any reasons for the request and said that it had not been agreed by the tripartite consultative council that brings together representatives of the government, labour unions and employer associations. The trade union said that the request should be withdrawn, otherwise it would further deteriorate the quality of medical services offered by Bulgaria’s understaffed healthcare sector.
Andreeva said on August 22 that the letter quoted by CITUB contained a clerical error and the proposed 10% cut was only meant to apply to administrative staff, not medical personnel.
“It was a technical mistake and I was very surprised myself, because we are putting in a lot of effort into stabilising and changing the situation in the ambulance service and the psychiatric clinics, which are the only healthcare institutions that are directly subordinate to the Health Ministry,” she said.
“I found such claims absurd, but clearly bureaucratic errors can cause such situations, which is why we have to be careful,” she said.
Andreeva said that the letter was also not an order, as CITUB interpreted it, but asking for suggestions as to how such cuts could be carried out.
“It is not even an issue of making employees redundant, but optimising staff,” she said, adding that there were currently 700 vacancies in the healthcare sector, which could simply be eliminated.