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The problems with staffing became evident in hospitals in Radom, Płock, Grójec, Siedlce, Nowe Miasto nad Pilicą, as well as a number of facilities in the capital - Bródno Hospital, Czerniakowski Hospital, Caritas care facility and private nursing home at ul. Bobrowiecka, as well as the National Institute of Hygiene, in recent weeks. 

The situation is dramatic. Patients are even left alone in some cases. At the nursing home on Bobrowiecka, only one nurse has worked during the Easter holidays.

The voivode imposes penalties

The voivode, Konstanty Radziwiłł from PiS, applied art. 47 of the Act on preventing and combating infections and infectious diseases, according to which he could decide to refer medical staff to a given facility.  

 - The voivode directed a total of 130 health professionals to medical facilities. So far, a total of 20 people have come to work - says Ewa Filipowicz, spokeswoman for the Masovian voivode.  

Administrative penalties of up to 30,000 PLN may be imposed on employees who do not comply with the voivode's decision. According to Filipowicz, the voivode has already punished five medical professionals with fines of 5,000 PLN. The voivode has notified the prosecutor's office about the situation in the nursing home at Bobrowiecka. He has also the opportunity to file for disciplinary actions, including to the spokesperson of the medical chamber. However, no complaint has been received there yet.

Why do doctors not want to work in the facilities to which the voivode directs them? 

 - The problem is definitely the lack of the right amount of personal protective equipment. What is the point of organizing forced referrals when a doctor after two hours spent in the hospital might meet a patient with Covid-19 and land in quarantine - says Łukasz Jankowski, the president of the District Medical Chamber in Warsaw.  

Radziwił sent chaotic referrals 

Jankowski reports that in March the voivode requested data about the doctors in Mazowiecki. - We could not share the information demanded, because there is a mistake in the law cited by the voivode. Professional association does not have the possibility to share it. We asked the Ministry of Health for help. I have the impression that the voivode still did not obtain the doctors’ register. When sending referrals, he acts chaotically, a little blindly - notes the president of Warsaw-based District’s Medical Chamber.  

He says that referrals went to people who, pursuant to the Act, are excluded from working under this mode. - The voivode sent them to the mothers of young children, pregnant doctors, and retired doctors. It looks like they didn't even check their social security numbers - notes Jankowski.  

He also has reservations about the manner of forwarding referrals. - A policeman brought them, often late in the evening. There were cases when a doctor had just finished his duty, and in eight hours he was to appear at another hospital in another city. This way of handling referrals has shaken the doctors' sense of security - says the president of the District’s Medical Chamber.  

Voivode: most doctors presented L4

Ewa Filipowicz, voivode spokeswoman: - Most of those who did not come to work presented sick leave. A large proportion of them were issued on the exact day the referral decision was delivered. Therefore, these sick leaves are submitted for verification and control by the Social Insurance Institution (ZUS) .

Łukasz Jankowski: - If there are doctors who have deliberately avoided their duty, this is obviously reprehensible.

It seems that - as President Jankowski points out - the voivode learned his lessons. Even before Easter, the Chamber received an appeal by Radziwiłł with a clearly changed tone. Today, he 'asks willing doctors and dentists’ to report their readiness for work. He announced that those who volunteer will be the first to receive referrals. 

 - I appeal for medical staff to be guided by what is most important in this service, i.e. the well-being of patients - says Konstanty Radziwiłł. 

Lawyers for medics 

Doctors are supported by lawyers. The District Medical Chamber in Warsaw launched the "Lawyer for Doctor" program. The helpline operating under this initiative allows for quick and free help. Doctors belonging to the Chamber can benefit from support. From early March to April 10, lawyers gave 318 advice. - 25 of the inquiries concerned referrals from a voivode. For two people, lawyers have prepared appeals against an incorrectly issued decision - lists President Jankowski. 

Doctors are also supported by lawyers associated in the District Bar Council in Warsaw. The campaign under the slogan "Attorneys for Medics" began a few days ago. From Monday to Friday, lawyers receive calls from doctors, nurses and paramedics. About 30 people contact the lawyers each day.  

 - They call and write with various questions, in particular in the field of labor law in the era of epidemics, issues regarding quarantine applied to many representatives of medical professions or the procedure regarding the referral of a medic to work outside the workplace - says lawyer Michał Fertak from the District Bar Council in Warsaw. 

He points out that there are more and more questions every day. - We are aware that the longer the epidemic lasts, the more legal problems will be with which medical professionals will contact us - the lawyer predicts. 

Lawyers from the District Bar Council encourage contact of representatives of all professional groups from the medical industry, including laboratory diagnosticians and pharmacists. - We will find the answer to every, even the most difficult question - declares attorney Fertak.

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