Lithuanian resident doctors protest to demand better conditions

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Lithuanian resident doctors protest to demand better conditions

VILNIUS – Around 1,000 medical workers attended a rally in the Lithuanian capital on Thursday demanding better working conditions and reforms of the country’s healthcare system.
Young resident doctors and their supporters held a symbolic march to the Lithuanian government palace. Some of the protesters carried suitcases to emphasize the mass emigration of medical workers.
On social media, organizers of the rally called themselves “the remaining Lithuanian resident doctors, nurses, doctors and the future medical personnel of Norway, Sweden, Germany.”
Protesters demanded the Lithuanian government prepare legislational changes to reform the country’s healthcare system.
“We want to show that we are the critical mass that is ready to change the system and the entire country,” Urte Builyte, member of the council of the country’s medical workers movement, told Lithuanian national television LRT.
The rally was held despite the parliament’s recent decision to increase resident doctors’ salaries by 10 percent as of January this year. “This is not enough,” said Builyte.
Protesters say young resident doctors often have to find additional jobs to make a living while pursuing their medical studies and career. Last year, the youngest resident doctors earned 390 euros (471 U.S. dollars) per month before taxes, while senior resident doctors’ monthly salary before taxes was 497 euros. Currently, the minimum wage in Lithuania is 400 euros.
Earlier this week, Lithuanian Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis said the rally was politically motivated.
On Thursday, following the meeting with representatives of the protest, Skvernelis promised to allocate more funds to increase salaries for medical workers.
“Until 2019, we have to prepare sustainable funding model and make improvement in regards to resident doctors’ education system, ensure their social guarantees,” Skvernelis told journalists after the meeting.
According to the most recent survey of medicine students, around one third of them are determined and prepared to flee the country after their studies.

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