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Junior doctors rise up in Poland

BMJ 2016; 353 doi: (Published 22 June 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;353:i3472
  1. Katherine Bettany, medical student
  1. Imperial College London
  1. katherinebettany{at}
Pawel Supernak/Polish Press Agency

Around 5000 junior doctors from across Poland took part in a demonstration in Warsaw last weekend in protest at poor wages and quality of training, and a lack of regulation of working hours.

Organised by the Porozumienie Rezydentów (Residents Association), which represents junior doctors, the protest drew attention to the working conditions faced by more than 16 000 doctors in training.1

Damian Patecki, leader of the association, said that monthly salaries ranged from just 3170 zloty (£560) to 3890 zloty. The average monthly salary in Poland in 2015 was 3900 zloty.2 The number of residencies in Poland is limited and often does not match demand for specialists, so doctors wishing to undergo training in a particular specialty may have to do so unpaid, while also having to pay for their own liability insurance.

Lack of regulation of working hours is also a concern. The Residents Association claims that few hospitals comply with employment law, and because of a lack of public funding hospitals are obliged to rota junior doctors as the cheapest—and often free—workforce. Working weeks are long: Patecki estimated that the typical trainee doctor might work 60 to 90 hours a week in one workplace. Trainees are often required to work outside their chosen specialty, which the Residents Association claims compromises the quality of their specialty training.

Patecki said that talks with the government had so far been unsuccessful. “We would like to avoid strikes,” he said, “because our patients are already waiting too long for medical help.” However, he pointed out, trainee doctors were “gradually running out of peaceful methods.”


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