How countries support frontline doctors against Covid-19

Many countries actively support the frontline health workers against Covid-19 such as increasing income, taking care of children and providing accommodation and transportation.

Since the outbreak of Covid-19 around the world, doctors and nurses have become the frontline force against the epidemic, under unimaginable pressure while working in an environment of high nCoV exposure, applying preventive measures. the most severe isolation and epidemic prevention, while making every effort to fight for the patient’s life.

In order to take good care of these “silent heroes”, many governments have applied a series of measures to support and encourage doctors and nurses, from mental health assurance, financial support to providing accommodation. accommodation, free transportation.

According to research published in the journal Eurohealth in November 2020, when Covid-19 overloaded the health system, many European countries have applied a series of initiatives to encourage and support the life and work of their workforce. national health care. At least 24/35 European countries have measures to take care of mental health for doctors and nurses, 17 countries support the care of children of medical staff, and 18 countries apply financial policies to help frontline forces. .

The hotline to support medical staff is largely set up completely new, not based on the existing platform. The model is operated at national scale (such as in Bulgaria, Czech Republic, France, UK), regional level (Denmark and Belgium) or by professional association (Poland, Turkey, UK, France). .

Advice lines for doctors in Hungary and Croatia are operated by universities and medical schools. Some countries in the region apply an additional form of psychological counseling online via phone application or website.

Medical staff at an isolation ward at a hospital in Wuhan, Hubei province, China in February 2020.  Photo: Reuters.

Medical staff move patients at an isolation ward at a hospital in Wuhan, Hubei province, China in February 2020. Photo: Reuters.

Poland is an example of a model that both tightens the management of the medical force in the midst of the pandemic and increases income to motivate doctors and nurses. From April to July 2020, medical staff who come into close contact with Covid-19 patients or suspected cases of nCoV infection in Poland are prohibited from working part-time outside the medical facility they are working for.

In order to compensate for the lost income for medical staff, the Polish Ministry of Health directs the National Health Fund (NHF) to ensure a monthly cash allowance for medical staff affected by the regulation. new determination. The maximum allowance is 2,600 USD, equivalent to 50-80% of the income at the outsourced establishment. The average support for doctors is about 1,700 USD, and for nurses is 805 USD, including social insurance contributions from outside work.

Some Polish hospitals have separate allowances for medical staff who bear the risk of nCoV exposure when caring for patients. At Gdansk regional hospitals, doctors and nurses receive an additional 20% of their annual income and about 20% of their hourly earnings on the contract. In Wroclaw, healthcare workers are paid an extra $8 for every hour they work. The director of Krakow University Hospital has pledged to increase income for people working in the infectious disease ward and emergency department.

In addition to the financial aspect, European countries also mobilize social resources to support other issues in the lives of doctors and nurses against the epidemic, such as means of transportation or accommodation.

In the UK, National Health Service (NHS) staff are provided with free or low-cost accommodation if they are isolated with their family or experiencing hardship at their residence because of epidemiological risks. For example, the NHS Homes program was established in April 2020 by the Short-Term Accommodation Association. The same model applies in Poland, Romania and some Turkish localities. This measure creates conditions for British medical staff to work safely and work overtime because they no longer have to worry about being away from home for a long time.

In addition, some countries have added measures to support child care to reduce the burden on medical staff and ensure frontline forces are dedicated to fighting the epidemic.

During the peak of the epidemic in Europe, child care facilities and schools in some countries such as Austria, Belgium, France and Germany still accepted children of doctors and nurses. Romania increases the childcare allowance for medical workers, especially those who cannot take leave because of the Covid-19 crisis.

In Israel, some hospitals organize their own care and care areas for children of doctors and nurses.

Medical staff in the hospital intensive care unit in London in December 2020, during the Covid-19 outbreak because of the Alpha mutation.  Photo: Guardian.

Medical staff in the hospital intensive care unit in London in December 2020, during the Covid-19 outbreak because of the Alpha mutation. Photo: Guardian.

China in February 2020 also made efforts to support the families of the frontline forces with the policy of adding points for the junior high school graduation exam for the children of doctors and nurses participating in the fight against the epidemic in Hubei.

Children who have not yet entered grade 1 will be given priority to be admitted to public kindergartens. College entrance exam candidates who are children of frontline medical workers also earn points.

At the beginning of August, Chinese President Xi Jinping praised medical workers as “guardian angels for people’s health” who accepted sacrifices to create a wall against Covid-19. He reaffirmed that medical staff are the “backbone force” in the victory over the pandemic and need protection, care and support in all aspects to maintain fighting strength.

To ensure enough nurses to take care of Covid-19 patients, Singapore in July announced an increase in monthly income for the group working in public hospitals from 5 to 14%. This is part of a vision to 2030 strategy to reduce the Singapore health system’s dependence on foreign workers and increase the number of highly skilled nurses capable of prescribing medicines.

In addition, employees in other departments of the hospital, such as support staff, administrative staff, and pharmacists, will receive a 3-7% increase in salary. In addition to 56,300 public sector employees, Singapore’s Ministry of Health decided to increase the allowances for about 20,800 people working at public health care organizations operated by the budget.

“The health care workforce is the lifeblood of the health system. They play a key role in protecting the health of society. We must maintain a competitive salary with the general market for healthcare workers in order to earn profits. attract and retain talent,” Singapore senior health official Koh Poh Koon noted.

Trung Nhan (Follow Eurohealth/Straits Times/Xinhua/AFP)

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