WARSAW, Poland, Jan. 8 (UPI) -- Doctors' unions urged Polish President Lech Kaczynski to help resolve a pay raise dispute that threatens to cripple the state-run healthcare service.
Tomasz Underman, vice-chairman of the All-Poland physicians union decided to address the head of state after their appeal to Prime Minister Donald Tusk produced no result, Polish Radio said Tuesday.
Union's Chairman Tomasz Bukiel criticized Health Minister Ewa Kopacz for failing to offer a feasible solution to the doctors demand for higher pay.
The union leaders suggested a plan that would reform the healthcare system, including participation of patients in co-financing the service, an increase in healthcare compulsory fees and a program for additional health service, the radio said.
Doctors and nurses have been in intermittent strikes in state-run hospital and clinics across Poland since mid-1996, demanding substantial raises.
Doctors are demanding their monthly salary be increased to at least $1,800 to $2,700, which is two to three times the Polish national average salary of $900.
Since Poland joined the European Union in 2004, thousands of Polish doctors have left the country for Western Europe seeking better-paid jobs.