WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Large numbers of doctors, nurses and other medical workers marched in Warsaw on Saturday to demand higher wages and an improvement in working conditions made more difficult by the coronavirus pandemic.
Poland’s health care sector was strapped for funds even before the pandemic, and low wages drove many medical workers to seek work in other European Union countries.
Protesters, which also included midwives, physical therapists and lab technicians, beat drums and blew horns. They stressed the point in speeches and their banners that they are working extremely long hours, putting their patients in danger and also driving themselves to early deaths.
Nurses in white caps carried banners saying: “Rested medic = safe patient!” and “One nurse for 30 patients!” Who to help first?”
Organizers called for a moment of silence during the march to honor the health care workers who have died from COVID-19.
Health Minister Adam Niedzielski says he’s open to discussing the demands with the protesters but that the state cannot afford to meet all their demands.
Unions’ meetings with the health minister broke down on Friday and he accused the protest organizers of “creating theater” on the streets in a search of “social applause.”
The protest took place in central Warsaw and was to head past parliament and end at the prime minster’s office.