Intended for healthcare professionals


Anaesthetists in Poland are on hunger strike

BMJ 1997; 315 doi: (Published 15 November 1997) Cite this as: BMJ 1997;315:1312
  1. C R Eatock, Consultant anaesthetistsa,
  2. R S Sanders, Consultant anaesthetistsa,
  3. C M Wait, Consultant anaesthetistsa,
  4. D G Willatts, Consultant anaesthetistsa,
  5. P S Laurie, Consultant anaesthetistsa,
  6. B A Thornley, Consultant anaesthetistsa,
  7. C A Wareham, Consultant anaesthetistsa
  1. a Horton Hospital NHS Trust, Banbury, Oxfordshire OX16 9AL

    Editor—All doctors in Britain are concerned about the effects of chronic underfunding of health care, but a recent letter from two of our former senior house officers, Dr Jolante Sliwowska and Dr Przemek Jakubowski, highlights how bad things are in Poland.

    On 14 October 1997 a number of the anaesthetists in Warsaw, Poland, went on hunger strike, and at present about 250 of a total of about 300 are reported to be starving themselves. The anaesthetists seek, firstly, an improvement in the monitoring equipment and the other equipment that they work with; they wish to reduce the unnecessary risks that their patients are being exposed to every day. They also seek an improvement in their own salary, which is currently below the mean for all workers in Poland. There have been protests in all medical specialties for the past year, including formal negotiations and two protest rallies of 10 000 doctors through Warsaw. Because of the lack of any response, and in despair, the anaesthetists' medical society decided that a hunger strike was the only way that they could get the attention they deserve. The anaesthetists have continued to work until they have been ordered not to when they become medically unfit.

    We are obviously concerned for Jolante, Przemek, and their colleagues, who by this time are placing their health seriously at risk. We wish them well and express our support in what they are trying to achieve.