Bulgarian GPs, hospitals protest against health system reforms

General practitioners, private and municipal hospitals in Bulgaria began protests on March 28 in a show of dissent against reforms to the country’s health care system due to take effect on April 1.

As part of the protest against reforms piloted by Petar Moskov, Health Minister in Bulgaria’s centre-right coalition cabinet, GPs in the cities and towns of Veliko Turnovo, Kyustendil, Razgrad and Yambol went on strike on March 28.

However, for patients in urgent need, including the elderly and seriously ill children, there would be doctors on duty at each medical facility where GPs were on strike. Access to routine examinations and tests will be difficult because of the GPs’ strike.

The medical practitioners are protesting against the framework contract by the Health Ministry and National Health Insurance Fund distribute funding.

GPs also are protesting against a change to the system whereby access to services at hospitals, pharmacies and clinics will be possible only against fingerprint ID. They also object to what they say is insufficient funding for preventative examinations in specialist areas.

Bulgarian medical associations say that the changes will lead to problems in a system that remains under-financed, patients will not be able to choose where to be treated, and hospitals will be deprived of the opportunity to invest in innovation.

Bulgaria’s Health Ministry has acknowledged that out-patient care has been neglected and under-funded for a long time, but insists that the reforms will result in an improvement of the service given to patients.

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(Photo: Paul Barker/sxc.hu)