Social Reform Pressure Group, Nurses Start Indefinite Protests over Failure to Reform Embattled Social and Health Care Systems
A nation-wide pressure group for reforms in the social care system, known by its motto "The System is Killing Us", started indefinite protests Sunday together with nurses over the government's failure to reform the social and the health care systems. They gathered outside the government building in Sofia and other towns across the country.
The System Is Killing Us is pressing for the resignation of Labour and Social Policy Minister Denitsa Sacheva as they argue that she has been trying to discredit the Personal Care Act which ensures care for the people with the worst and multiple disabilities. "The adoption of this law was a hard-won victory and many disabled people did not live to see it enacted," said Vera Ivanova of The System Is Killing Us. She said that 15,000 to 16,000 disabled persons have been left without personal care. She also recalled the Minister as saying that there is only money to provide personal care for 23,000 disabled people, which means that some of the 29,000 people who need personal carers, will be left out of the system.
Ivanova was adamant that The System Is Killing Us will remain in their protest camp outside the government until Sacheva comes down.
The protesting nurses will be there with them "because it is inadmissible to refuse to reform the two most important systems: the social and the health care", to use the words of Maya Ilieva, the chair of a new trade union of college-educated health care professionals (nurses, midwives, technicians, physiotherapists, paramedics, etc.).
Their protest is over inadequate work conditions, low pay and understaffing, the same reasons that drove them to protest repeatedly in 2019.
"Our demands as the same as a year ago. We have been saying all along that health care should be a matter of national security. The nursing profession is vanishing and we want the government to issue an ordinance to give us protection and change the conditions in which we work," said Ilieva.
She said in the past year the government tried in various ways to appease the nurses, even money was provided [to increase nurses' wages] "but nobody knows where this money went".
The union of health professionals want a starting wage equal to two minimum
wages or more.
Ilieva said that 80 per cent of the working non-doctor health professionals are past their retirement age and the youngest nurses are in their 50s.
She said that they no longer want to depend on clinical pathways and patient numbers: they want to be under the umbrella of the Health Ministry "just like teachers, who have their own ministry"