The head of the hospital and two doctors from the Internal Ward of the District Hospital in Lesko (Podkarpackie Voivodeship) submitted their notices. If the management of the hospital does not find a replacement, one of the most important departments may cease to exist during the holidays. Doctors say they are overworked and poorly paid. The director of the hospital replies that he cannot pay more because the hospital has financial problems.
Five doctors are employed in the Internal Ward of the District Hospital in Lesko. Recently, three of them – the head of the department and two doctors – have resigned from work. During the holidays, due to lack of staff, the branch may stop working.
Leska boarding school has 32 beds. There is a four-bed intensive cardiological supervision room attached to the ward. Every year, about a thousand people are hospitalized in the ward, not only from the Lesko district, but also from the neighboring Sanok and Bieszczady districts. In the summer season, tourists who come to the Bieszczady Mountains and require treatment also go there.
One of the doctors who resigned is the head of internal medicine, Dr. Jarosław Maresz. – The situation in hospitals has been tense and difficult for years. There is a shortage of specialist doctors, salaries are sloppy. Since Minister Szumowski’s raise, they have increased significantly, because the so-called minimum wage was established, but these salaries are still not competitive with the salaries offered by primary health care and these are really very large differences – the head of the department tells us.
SEE THE MATERIAL OF “FACTS” TVN: Increase in the minimum wage of doctors by PLN 19 gross. “It is deeply frustrating”
He adds: – In primary health care, you can earn nearly four times as much per hour as in a hospital. A family doctor, if he has a problematic patient, directs him to the hospital, and a hospital doctor – who is paid much less – has to deal with this patient, diagnose and cure it. Hence our frustration.
To care for patients, they work overtime, some work two full-time jobs
In order to provide patients with 24-hour care, doctors at the internal medicine clinic in Lesko must also work overtime. – We make extra money, thanks to which salaries are higher, but we are also burdened with additional working time, which is tiring – admits Dr. Maresz.
According to the Labor Code, eight doctors are needed to staff duty hours at the internal medicine clinic in Lesko, currently there are five. With the current state of employment, doctors – in order to ensure proper operation of the ward – must additionally agree to the so-called overtime work, because the Labor Code forbids them to perform more than four shifts a month. Some people work two jobs a month.
“I don’t want to die on duty, and that’s how overwork can end”
According to the head of the ward, the problems at the internment center in Lesko began when one of the doctors resigned a month ago. – In this situation, not seeing the possibility of securing the work of the branch, I also resigned – says Maresz.
Another doctor resigned last Friday. – In this situation, from August 1, I and two assistants would stay in the ward, one of whom works part-time in a diabetes clinic. We would have to shift shifts, sometimes every other day, and then stay at work until 3 p.m., i.e. work 24 hours plus a day’s pay until 3 p.m., because there is no one to take care of patients – he explains. He adds: “It’s unbearable. I can’t imagine it, physically I wouldn’t be able to do it. I don’t want to die on duty, and that’s how overwork can end up.
– I cannot continue to endorse this status quo with my person, because it would be dangerous not only for me, but also for patients. A tired doctor may not be able to make the right decision, may make a mistake, overlook something, and this is also a serious threat to patients – he says.
“The situation is very difficult and you have to consider all scenarios”
– We have announced and we are looking for doctors for the internal ward to secure its operation, we are in talks – Piotr Czerwiński, director of the district hospital in Lesko tells us.
He admits that the hospital is unable to offer doctors higher rates, because the facility simply cannot afford it.
– If we offer doctors higher rates, there will be a domino effect, all doctors demand an increase in rates, and they are so high that they already exceed the financial capabilities of the hospital. The hospital has huge debts and is unable to increase the salaries of doctors – he explains.
As he tells us, the hospital currently has about PLN 60 million in debt, with a PLN 40 million contract from the National Health Fund. The facility is in the process of reorganization.
– We are preparing ideas to re-profile the hospital, but it is too early to talk about details – emphasizes the director.
As he admits, the change in the profile of the facility has so far been prepared on the basis of a functioning internal department. If it has to be shut down, the plan will have to be modified.
– The internal ward is very important when it comes to the functioning of the hospital – he emphasizes.
This Thursday (April 27) the director of the hospital will meet with the council of the Lesko poviat. Decisions on the future of the internal department – as he reports – are to be made at the beginning of May.
– The situation is very difficult and all scenarios have to be taken into account. Also the one assuming liquidation of the branch – says Czerwiński.
“If the policy of hospital management does not change, in a few years the wind will blow over the wards”
– The situation is very difficult – admits in an interview with tvn24.pl one of the doctors employed in the internal ward, who has not yet submitted and – as he assures – does not intend to submit a notice. – We have built a good, well-coordinated team. It’s a shame, he admits.
He points out that if the management of the facility does not hire additional doctors, it is impossible to tighten the duty hours so as to ensure the functioning of the ward. – I cannot imagine the functioning of the hospital without the internal ward, it is a kind of “heart of the hospital” – he comments.
He adds that the problem of the clinic – apart from staff shortages – is also an aging staff. As he says, most of the employees of the hospital in Lesko – both doctors and nurses, are people of pre-retirement age. – There is no youth employment policy, and that’s a mistake. Only by offering competitive conditions can we attract young staff – he says. And he adds: – I have dark thoughts. If the policy of hospital management does not change, in a few years the wind will be blowing in the wards.
Main photo source: tvn24.pl (archive)