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Bavarian doctors shut offices over government health policy

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Bavarian doctors shut offices over government health policy
Photo: DPA
09:45 CEST+02:00
Bavarian doctors began a two-day protest on Thursday to air their concerns about German Health Minister Philipp Rösler’s policies. The general practitioners will refuse to see patients during this time.

According to a Bavarian physicians' association, between 6,000 and 7,000 doctors will close their clinical practices.

The doctors are unhappy with Rösler’s plans to dock bonus payments from their contracts. The cuts, which would reportedly amount to hundreds of millions of euros, threaten the livelihood of doctors, head of the association Dr. Wolfgang Hoppenthaller said in a statement.

“We general practitioners are there for our patients evenings, weekends, and at home – and in doing so offer qualitatively high-value care,” he said. “We no longer have economic planning security and aren’t finding successors for our practices.”

The protest is an attempt to fight against the changes to doctor pay scale autonomy and keeping Bavaria’s medical structure intact, he added.

Any previously signed contracts and regulations should remain valid, the association insisted.

“Our protest is not aimed at our patients,” Hoppenthaller said. “Even if health insurers and politicians try everything to describe it otherwise.”

The action is seen as a likely prelude to similar protests brewing in other states.

But the Health Ministry rejected the doctors’ concerns on Thursday.

“The fears that the association leaders are fanning are unfounded,” a ministry spokesperson said, adding that the centre-right government coalition actually planned to strengthen the services provided by general practitioners.

“Incidentally the general practitioner contracts enjoy the right to continuance. That is the case in Bavaria,” he said.

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