(DF) Nurses Stage Indefinite Protest in Front of Council of Ministers

December 15 (BTA) – During a national protest in front of the Council of Ministers on Sunday, Bulgarian healthcare professionals in nursing said they will stay there “until something new is born” to solve the problems in healthcare. They insist on seeing Prime Minister Boyko Borissov so that he could hear their grievances first hand. The healthcare system is severely understaffed by nurses and other professionals as a result of a mass exodus to the industrialized economies in old Europe. The few that remain are overworked and underpaid. “We are not leaving,” said nurse Maya Ilieva. “We are here because our demands have been ignored for ten months now. We went round all institutions, commissions, ministries, parliamentary groups, everybody say they strongly empathize with us and fully understand us, but then nothing changes, and we are left to our own devices.” She recalled that in the course of three months nurses had camped out in a tent in front of the Health Ministry to explain to members of the citizens why the system which is supposed to protect heath actually endangers it. “This is the case because there are over 30,000 vacancies for healthcare professionals in nursing, because we have to work two or three jobs, doing 24 or even 36-hour shifts without rest, we log a lot of overtime, and the over 1,000-lev [monthly] wages that they dangle before us from the Ministry imply a large amount of overtime,” Ilieva said. In her words, the overtime at hospitals is out of control, nobody knows how many healthcare professionals are needed, there are no standards, and their work is not costed. The protestors put up a tent in front of the Council of Ministers and pinned sheets stating their grievances on it. At the protest, the healthcare professionals carried placards reading “Back Us Today – Otherwise Nobody Will Be Left to Take Care of You Tomorrow” and “Don’t Force Us to Emigrate – If We All Leave, Healthcare Will Die.” LN/LG