Family Physicians Threaten to Limit the Number of Patients They See Each Day

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Family physicians say they are overworked and threaten to limit the number of patients they see.

Family physicians might decide that they will comply with European standards and devote on average 20 minutes of their time to each patient. However, given the number of patients and family physicians, that would mean that approximately half of patients would not have the opportunity to see their physicians at all. That is a step which the physicians could made this autumn, and it would follow many months of warnings and appeals to the health authorities, reports Večernji List on August 7, 2016.

“We would like to respect the European average to 35 patients per day and this is one of our proposals. We constantly warn that for each patient we currently have only three to five minutes, but we will start working according to the regulations and spend 20 minutes per patient. We have not yet reached a consensus, and we have different ideas and proposals”, explains Vikica Krolo, president of the Coordination of Croatian Family Medicine.

When a primary care physician goes on the annual leave or sick leave, they are replaced by a colleague which then has to take care of both their own patients and the patients from the physician who is away. “The average daily number of visits in a regular period is between 50 and 100, and it reaches 150 during periods when other physician is away. If urgent measures are not taken, there could be adverse consequences for patients, and the only responsible persons would be physicians. Also, it is unbelievable that physicians are not financially stimulated when they take over other physicians’ patients”, says the Coordination of Croatian Family Medicine in a statement.

The family physicians also want the Ministry of Health to draft regulations for physicians who are on stand-by and other issues. However, they have still not received any reply. One of the examples which physicians cite when describing conditions in which they work is the so-called “Zadar case”, where their colleague work on weekends and holidays in hospital surgical departments. They believe there is no legal basis for this. “We urge the Ministry to prevent any disregard of medicine standards and to protect the dignity of family physicians”, concludes the Coordination.


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