Family doctors who agree to work more than 40 kilometers from the nearest hospital will receive a monthly grant of more than €1,600. In addition, the salaries of all health care workers will increase from April 1.
Starting April 1, the distance payment for family doctors will more than double and the number of recipients will increase.
Under the new agreement, a family doctor working more than 40 kilometers from the nearest hospital or on an island will be paid a monthly grant of €1646.82 instead of the current €563.15. As a result of the change of distance, the additional fee will be paid to 400 family doctors instead of the current 179.
Family doctors working closer to Tallinn and Tartu and adjacent areas will be paid a monthly supplement of €823.41 instead of the previous €196.55.
The purpose of the payment is to ensure the availability of family doctors outside of cities. The distance allowance also covers additional location costs to further motivate doctors to work in rural areas.
In recent months Haapsalu has experienced trouble finding a new doctor to work in the town. As one of Estonia's bigger towns, this has concerned health officials, who believe many doctors do not want to work outside of Tallinn or Tartu. With many family doctors nearing, or over retirement age, there is concern it will be hard or impossible to replace doctors in rural areas without additional support in the coming years.
In addition, all healthcare workers will receive salary increases from April 1.
Calculated by the hour, the salaries of the health care professionals will be €13.30 per hour (currently €12.40) for doctors, for specialist doctors €14.40 per hour (currently €13.40); for a nurse €8.00 per hour (currently €7.45) and for a carer €5.00 per hour (currently €4.65).
In a statement, Minister of Social Affairs Tanel Kiik said: "Health workers are the most valuable asset of our health care system. In the present situation, it is especially important that health workers, who are on the front line of resolving this crisis and the first contact for people in getting help, can be confident that previously agreed pay increases will happen."
Editor: Helen Wright