Milan medics, vets to strike

Italian doctors to strike 16 December.

Doctors in Milan will join colleagues around the country on Wednesday 16 December in a full-day strike to protest cuts in services to citizens and to “defend the National Health Service”.

Some 200,000 medics, including family doctors and veterinarians, will refuse to work, causing an estimated two million examinations and 40,000 operations to be postponed.

Urgent and emergency treatment will still be carried out, but non-urgent, planned treatment will need to be re-scheduled.

This is a cry of alarm to citizens, a union official told the media. If there is no national support plan for the SSN (Servizio Sanitario Nazionale), we are going to see a drastic reduction in services, and patients might find the public health system no longer exists and has been substituted by private health care, he added.

Only two days ago, the government announced that a clause in the budget bill currently being debated in parliament, which would have financed hiring another 6,000 doctors and nurses to cover the lack of personnel for shift work, was to be cancelled. Fortunately, the health ministry back-tracked, opening the way for a closer look at the numbers required.

But the funding for new personnel will have to come from a close look at whether services and medication prescribed by the doctors are strictly necessary, said health minister Beatrice Lorenzin.

The union also plans to hold another two days of protest in January.