Less services to chronically and terminally ill patients. Doctors, three days of strike in October
ROME – Poor healthcare for the poorest. This is the suspicion that hovers in the air and that worries doctors and trade unions, who are rejecting the health measures introduced by the government without appeal and are preparing to do battle in September.
Cuts to hospital beds, fewer staff, blockage of turnover and no future for 12,000 precarious workers who work in hospitals. And cuts, of course, to the funds allocated to health care, because the health pact, signed with the regions, has been scaled down. And that's not all, because with the stroke of a pen the government revoked the decree voted by the Prodi executive which extended the essential levels of assistance (the Lea) to new services and categories: from the dentist for the indigent to the supply of mobility devices, to painless childbirth. The decree also guaranteed greater assistance to the chronically ill, starting with Alzheimer's; he supplied hearing aids to those who can no longer speak and hear; it recognized 109 rare diseases, expanded the prosthesis services with the introduction of new IT aids and strengthened home assistance for the terminally ill. Finally, it provided for the free vaccine against the papilloma virus, the cause of uterine cancer. Now all this is cancelled, or at least suspended.
There was no financial backing for that decree, was the government's response yesterday. And indeed the Court of Auditors had raised some doubts. «But it could have been discussed, replies the CGIL, also because a plan had been agreed with the Regions precisely on the cover. Some services would have passed from the hospital to the day hospital, and some today the prerogative of day hospitals, to outpatient clinics ». From that savings would come the money to expand the benefits, which the government has now cancelled.
A move that has raised a general outcry. To which the Minister of Welfare (and Health), Maurizio Sacconi, replied as follows: "The Prodi government decree was a purely electoral act", in short, a promise. The benefits, he said, "will be reintroduced, undersecretary Fazio is working on it". Today "there weren't the 800 million needed to finance the interventions". Words that do not convince the CGIL: «In the meantime, the decree has been cancelled.
Will it be restored? But when? To dead father. The problem is that this budget law does not affect the waste and malfeasance that are to be found in the relationship between public and private structures". Even for the former minister Livia Turco "the resources were there, and they were withdrawn by the government". The battle sees all the unions united. «We acknowledge that the legislation is hostile to us – declares Anaao (hospital doctors) – and that the choices made will result in a poorer health service with demotivated professionals. But the repercussions will be above all on the citizens ». Hospital doctors are already on a war footing: in October they announced a three-day strike. Sacconi replies: "The protest is part of an old union logic." And in the "Green Book" that he will present today he writes: "There is no intention of dismantling the welfare system or of cutting social spending".
La Repubblica of 25/07/2008, article by BARBARA ARDÙ ed. national p. 09