Non-essential surgeries have been postponed, with several clinics and hospitals across the country offering only emergency services.
Many of the doctors will be attending a central rally in Frankfurt today, calling for better pay and more favourable working conditions.
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In addition to a pay rise of five percent, the doctors are demanding at least two weekends free per month as well as higher payments for being on call. They’ve also called for stable appointment rosters which are less subject to last-minute changes.
The VKA, the authority responsible for employing doctors at municipal hospitals, has offered to increase doctor salaries by 2.8 percent in 2019 and a further 2.5 percent in 2020. This offer has been rejected by the union.
Clinics across the country are participating in the strike, with some having their doctor cohort reduced by up to a third. The Süddeutsche Zeitung reports that around one-quarter of the doctors on duty at municipal hospitals will participate in the strike action.
The strike action was forecast on Monday by the union representing the striking doctors, the Marburger Bund.
The Bund said that in many clinics the strike would not be noticed by patients, but that a clear message was still being sent to employers.
In a publicly released statement, a spokesperson for the union said the strike action was necessary to show that the doctors were serious in pursuing their demands.
“We want to send employers a clear sign of disappointment over their offer and loudly communicate the clear expectations of the doctors,” the union said.
“A continuation of the negotiations is not possible.”
As reported by The Local on Monday, the union has forecast indefinite strike action should the demands not be met.
The strike is limited to doctors at municipal hospitals. Privately run clinics as well as university clinics will not be affected. Berlin and Hamburg are not affected by the strike.