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Healthcare sector says extra funding enough, likely to cancel strike

Most of the affected people are in the North Estonian areas of Tallinn and Ida-Viru county.
Most of the affected people are in the North Estonian areas of Tallinn and Ida-Viru county. Source: (Sander Ilvest/Postimees/Scanpix)

Representatives of the Estonian healthcare sector found that the amount of additional money earmarked by the government for healthcare services in the coming years was sufficient and that they will most likely not go on strike as planned.

In addition, Katrin Rehemaa, secretary general of the Estonian Medical Association, said that a collective agreement setting out the sector's pay increase will be signed next week.

Speaking at a press conference on Friday, Minister of Health and Labour Jevgeni Ossinovski described the decision to begin paying social tax for pensioners to the Health Insurance Fund as the most important decision made in the healthcare sector this decade, ensuring the sector's sustainable financing and increasing the stability of the financing of the Health Insurance Fund.

Although the situation will be difficult thi year, cash flows will begin to increase next year and the groundwork has been laid for things to begin getting better, said Rehemaa.

While the sector has confidence now regarding its future, 2017 is a year that must be survived, said Urmas Sule, manager of the Association of Hospitals.

Rehemaa noted that while she did not make the decisions on these things, noting that they are made by a panel of representatives, the strike that healthcare workers had been planning, which was scheduled to begin May 15, will likely be called off.

"If I said yesterday that the likelihood of industrial peace has skyrocketed, then following today's meeting, the likelihood has increased further," she explained.

A healthcare worker pay accord setting out a wage increase retroactively from April 1 is expected to be signed next week as well.

"The money for the pay increase of healthcare workers is there," Ossinovski said. "When the collective agreement is signed, we will be ready to endorse it next Wednesday and then approve it in the government."

The government decided on Wednesday that Estonia will begin paying money for pensioners into the budget of the Health Insurance Fund next year, with the sum of such payments gradually increasing from €37 million in 2017 to €100 million in 2022. On a similar scale, healthcare expenses that have been paid for from the state budget thus far will be made a liability of the Health Insurance Fund.

Editor: Aili Vahtla

Source: BNS

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