Italy's doctors to strike against budget cuts

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Over 200,000 doctors in Italy will strike for 24 hours on December 16th. Photo: Shutterstock
13:16 CET+01:00
Over 2,000 doctors across Italy will still go on strike tomorrow despite the government amending its budget for 2016 to allow for new doctors to be hired.

The 24-hour strike, called by 17 health service unions, will see 40,000 planned operations and two million consultations disrupted, La Stampa reported.

The doctors say the government has reneged on its health budget plan for 2016, cutting more than €2 billion from a sum previously agreed on by regional and local administrations.

They argue that the move would be detrimental to the quality of the health service.

But late on Monday night the government presented an amendment bill, which will allow regional authorities to hire new medics on temporary contracts ahead of holding selection competitions for permanent hires from June, the funding for which will come from savings made by planned health reforms, sources told Ansa.

Still, doctors have said this is only one of many issues the sector is facing and will persist with strike action in protest over the general condition of the health service.

“We’re launching a cry of alarm to citizens,” Giacomo Milillo, the secretary of Fimmg, a federation for family doctors, told La Stampa.

“The absence of a sustainable national health service plan will have a drastic impact on citizens, who might soon find themselves without a public health service, and one that’s been replaced by private care.”

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Milillo said that two more days of strikes are planned in January, and that medics would keep protesting until the government agreed to meet to work out a plan shared by all sides.

Italy spends seven percent of its national output on health services, less than Germany, France and the UK, according to figures from the national statistics agency, Istat. 

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