Hospital chiefs: Coalition deal fails to address healthcare staff shortages

Agris Peedu and Tarmo Bakler on Monday's 'Terevisioon'.
Agris Peedu and Tarmo Bakler on Monday's 'Terevisioon'. Source: ERR

A coalition agreement provision for analysis in the healthcare sector in Estonia is moribund, two Tallinn hospital chiefs say, since it is already clear what the issues – principally that of staffing shortages – are.

Tarmo Bakler, head of East Tallinn Central Hospital (ITKH), said analysis referred to in the coalition agreement has in fact already been conducted, making the more pertinent question whether the findings will be implemented.

Appearing on ETV morning show "Terevisiion" Monday, Bakler said: "If you take a look at another key issue in the health care sector alongside that of funding, ie. is where personnel will come from, that's not set out in the coalition agreement at all."

Agris Peedu, the head of the North Estonia Medical Center (PERH), also in Tallinn, added that he could not find a point in the coalition agreement on how more funding for health care would arise, though he, too, agreed that the main problem affecting health care is the situation with staff.

"We need more people. I couldn't find that point in the coalition deal, however. In one section, the topic was somewhat implied, where what services need to be brought to market if there is a shortage of personnel was being discussed. But there was no answer to actually resolving the staffing shortage," Peedu went on.

Furthermore, he said, while money is promised for investment, but nothing is referred to on funding for increased staff numbers.

Bakler recommended reading a the document from the National Audit Office on health trends, which was completed last November, which also stated that while vision is not lacking, concrete plans on implementing plans from an administrative perspective certainly was.

With the requirement for weekend or evening work or for being on-call, neither PERH nor ITKH are the most appealing workplaces for those in the healthcare sector, Peedu added, and sometimes cannot compete with the private sector.

Bakler and Peedu both mentioned mental health as an area of particular lacking and, while the latter noted this was mentioned in the agreement, again this means nothing without concrete steps.

"The post-Covid period shows that this issue needs to be addressed. However, we have a severe shortage in, for instance, child psychiatry, at PERH nowadays," Peedu said.

The coalition agreement's section on health care says that by the end of this year, an analysis of health funding will be conducted, with the aim of ensuring broader health funding and sustainability than was the case before, as well as referring to opportunities to attract private funding for health care.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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