When a priest arrives at a hospital in Chorzo to perform a funeral, nurse Marius Strug can see the fear in the dying patients’ eyes. “After the rites, they knew what was happening,” he said.
But there is no psychologist available to console the patients. Strug and another nurse tried to offer some kind words, but they were tense to the extent of caring for 60 patients in their COVID-19 ward.
“People come to us and they want us nurses to do miracles,” Strug said.
Tired of working in such a mindless system, he is among a group of health care workers who have come to Warsaw from across Poland to protest round-the-clock outside the prime minister’s office that has been going on for nearly two weeks.
A year and a half after the pandemic, and with Poland with its fourth surge of COVID-19 infections, nurses, doctors, ambulance drivers and other health care workers have urged Prime Minister Mateusz Morwiecki and other officials to call for deep reforms in the health care system. , arguing that it is in danger of collapse.
“The pandemic showed us just how bad the health care system is,” said Gilbert Kolbe, a nurse and protest movement spokesman. “This is the last chance to do something before it is too late. We will not be able to avert the coming crisis in five, ten years.”
While health care workers in the European Union of 27 countries have been tested by the pandemic, Poland faced that test with the fewest number of doctors and nurses. According to OECD data, Poland has the lowest number of working doctors in proportion to its population – just 2.4 to 1,000 residents compared to 4.5 in Germany. Poland also has only 5 nurses for 1,000 residents, the EU average. Below 8 and far below rich countries. Like Germany, which has 14.
Poland’s health care sector has been resource-bound for decades, a situation that has not been corrected by a series of governments on the left, the center, or now the right.
The problems have been exacerbated by thousands of doctors, nurses and others leaving Poland for higher-paid work in Western Europe after joining the European Union in 2004.
Many of the medical professionals living in Poland have left the public sector for better-paying jobs in the private sector, with little left to care for the poorest, said Kolbe, a 25-year-old who worked in a public hospital. Had left to work for a private medical company but hopes to return to public order one day.
Kolbe said an average of 5,500 people complete nursing studies in Poland each year, but only 2,500 go to work in the public order.
Some of those protesting say they are simply tired. Due to low wages, some people do more than one medical job to support themselves.
Eliseja Krakowicka, 56, a nurse in the southern city of Czestochowa, said her hospital has so few staff that during the height of the pandemic she sometimes starts her day at 6 a.m. because she is told to stay. The nurse was sick at night. He was then left alone with 30 patients for a 24-hour shift. Instead of taking two days off, he will be asked to return the next evening.
“Do you refuse?” he asked, explaining that he agreed to the tedious change out of a sense of obligation.
The protest began on 11 September, when thousands of Polish people marched through Warsaw. Some stayed in tents and held daily press conferences and lectures.
Protesters were hit hard last weekend when a 94-year-old man who was coming up to them and giving them candy killed himself a few feet away. A bullet fired during a news conference and medics ran to the man, but could not help him.
Since then they have been protesting quietly, skipping news conferences.
Amid pressure from protests, and weeks of negotiations between health care unions and the government, Moraviki announced on Tuesday that an additional 1 billion zloty ($254 million) was allocated this year for wages and education in the health care sector. will be done.
In addition, Health Minister Adam Nidzielski said on Wednesday that he has agreed to pay more paramedics.
Still, the protesting group said the rest of the health care community was not satisfied, meaning there are plans for further talks between the government and the protesters.
Medical student Kamila Maslowska stopped by a protest tent with some friends on Tuesday to show her solidarity.
“I know two additional languages fluently besides Polish, so I think I can get a job abroad,” she said. “(But) I don’t want to leave. I want to change something for the better.”
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Credit: www.independent.co.uk /