Bulgarian doctors hold national protest against health system reform

Several hundred doctors took part in a protest in Sofia on April 6 against what they describe as hasty reforms to the health care system.

Doctors from various parts of the country took part in the protest, organised by the Bulgarian Medical Association.

Protesters held banners reading “We want real reforms” and “Bureaucracy is not a cure”.

In recent weeks, there have been protests by general practitioners and by doctors at private hospitals against the reforms piloted by Petar Moskov, Health Minister in Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov’s centre-right government.

Participants called for Moskov’s resignation.

Reports said that the protest had received messages of support from private hospitals, community hospitals, patients’ organisations and NGOs.

The protesters rejected the recently-signed National Framework Agreement that governs the system of payment for health care services, and called for the scrapping of a new rule that will require those seeking treatement at hospitals to undergo fingerprint identification.

They said that the new health care system would deprive patients of their right to choose the hospitals at which they are treated, would result in working hospitals closing down, and deprive proven specialists of their jobs.

The head of the Bulgarian Medical Association, Dr Ventsislav Grozev, told Bulgarian National Radio that health care would not be affected by the protest, because only off-duty doctors would participate.

Moskov said that his colleagues had a right to express their discontent, and he had no further comment on the protest.

He said that talks between the government, the Ministry of Health and medics would continue until the problems raised by the doctors had been ironed out.

Moskov said that he had spoken to Grozev and said that Grozev was aware that he was determined to effect changes.

Rejecting calls for the reinstatement of the 2015 National Framework Agreement, Moskov said that the only valid one by which medical institutions and doctors shoudl work was the 2016 agreement.

In spite of the displeasure of the medics, reforms to the health care system would continue, Moskov said.

(Photo of Moskov: Archive)



The Sofia Globe staff

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