Doctors go on 24-hour strike in Italy over lack of funds

Published 23.11.2018 17:26

Doctors in Italy called a 24-hour strike Friday over a lack of funds in the public health sector and delays in renewing their collective contracts in the last 10 years.

About 40 surgeries scheduled for the day are set to be postponed while only emergency services will be provided as 120,000 doctors go on strike.

The funds provided to the public health sector in Italy are below the rates allocated in other European Union (EU) countries, according to information provided by the sectoral unions of the doctors.

Moreover, some of the public hospitals in the country were shut down and the designated bed capacity was decreased by 20,000 in the last 10 years due to the economic crisis, while 45.000 doctors will retire in the next 10 years, union officials said.

However, there are also other reasons for the strike, such as the decrease in scholarships offered to newly graduated doctors, which are crucial for them to specialize in a major, the lack of necessary personnel, as well as the rise in attacks targeting doctors and nurses by patients' relatives.

The Italian government, on the other hand, proposed a 3.5 million euro increase in funds to the public health sector within the next three years in the 2019 budget draft which was rejected by the EU Commission and led to a crisis between the Commission and the Italian government.

Italian leaders previously said that the budget plan will boost growth through higher spending. However, other European Union countries have raised concerns that increasing Italy's budget deficit to 2.4 percent of the annual GDP - beyond previous pledges of under 2 percent - will increase the already high public debt.

Italy argues that spending is necessary to relaunch economic growth after years of austerity. It wants to boost social welfare programs that will mostly benefit young job seekers and restore pensions that had been slashed by the previous government.

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