At the end of July, the rules restricting health employees dealing with COVID-19 patients to work in only one hospital were eased. According to the amended regulations, the director of a specialist hospital or facility with an infectious disease ward will decide if health workers dealing with COVID-19 patients may work at more than one institution.
https://serwiszoz.pl/aktualnosci-prawne/zlagodzono-przepisy-o-nakazie-pracy-w-jednym-miejscu-5503.html. [access online: 28.08.2020]
Comprehensive legislation on the prevention and eradication of COVID-19, which was passed in the parliament on 29 March, includes several health workforce measures.
In order to prevent a shortage of medical personnel, doctors who do not have a specialization in infectious diseases or are not anaesthesiologists may be redeployed or seconded (for up to 3 months) to infectious disease departments or to other facilities where help is needed. In addition, physicians undergoing specialist training may be deployed to fight the epidemic or to carry out designated tasks (in line with their current skills and experience) to free up other doctors’ time. Further, a new platform was created by a private company to allow retired physicians, who are at greater health risk due to COVID-19, to return to work remotely and provide teleconsultations. Final-year students of medicine, pharmacy, medical analytics, nursing and emergency may perform support roles (if they are willing to do so), e.g. conduct epidemiological interviews. They can also perform support roles in hospitals and nursing homes. There are also attempts to boost the number of nurses. For example, a simplified procedure is in place to allow non-practising nurses or midwives (who have had a break of at least a 5-year) to return to work.
Soldiers from the Territorial Defence Forces have been recently involved in the COVID-19 response. For example, they conduct evacuation of residents of nursing homes and are involved in provision of testing (see Section 1.5). Further support is available from volunteers who help older people with shopping or computer use.
Several legislative provisions address working hours, off- duty time, and payment structures (including overtime and night work) of medical employees in order to optimise working time and provide healthcare services around the clock. Since 29 April healthcare employees who are in contact with COVID-19 patients (or persons with a suspected coronavirus infection) have been prohibited from working in more than one place (for which they are financially compensated; see Section 4.1).
Since 29 April, healthcare employees who are in contact with COVID-19 patients (or persons with a suspected coronavirus infection) have been prohibited from working in more than one place. To compensate them for the loss of income due to this restriction, the Minister of Health instructed the NHF to provide them with monthly cash benefits (which will be financed from the Ministry of Health budget). The benefits are capped at PLN 10,000 per month and will be calculated at 80% of the remuneration received at the place of work where, after the introduction of the restriction, the employee no longer works, or, at the minimum, at 50% of remuneration received at the place where the employee chose to work after the restriction have been introduced. The compensation will cover the costs of social security contributions payable by the employer. Funding for this additional remuneration comes from the state budget.
Some hospitals have supplemented the remuneration of their employees with an allowance to compensate them for being exposed to patients infected with the coronavirus. For example, employees of hospitals in Gdańsk receive an additional 20% of their basic salary (as specified in the employment contract) and 20% of the hourly rate (as per contract); and in Wroclaw an additional PLN 30 (gross) per hour of work is offered as compensation. The director of the University Hospital in Krakow also declared to pay supplements to personnel working in the infectious ward and in the Hospital Emergency Department.
Other support for health workers
Medical personnel working in hospitals are at higher risk of contracting coronavirus. To protect their families, some hotels provide accommodation to such medical personnel. Voivodeship branches of the National Health Fund provide and secure accommodation for the staff of hospitals fighting SARS-Cov-2.
In terms of psychological support for medical staff and other employees who work during the epidemic, the Supreme Medical Chamber has taken the initiative to create a database of mental health specialists who are willing to offer their services to doctors, nurses, paramedics and other medical free of charge, either online or by phone. In addition, the state insurance state company (PZU Life) has set up a helpline (tel. number 22 505 11 77) offering psychological support to healthcare workers. The helpline is open every day from 8am until 8pm.
The staff of the emergency department of the University Hospital in Zielona Góra together with the Polish Radio West prepared a spot as part of the #wspierajmedyka (‘support the medic’) campaign, which aims to draw attention to the problem of discriminatory treatment of medical workers during the coronavirus epidemic (e.g. not allowing them into shops out of fears that they carry coronavirus).
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https://www.nfz.gov.pl/aktualnosci/aktualnosci-centrali/dodatkowe-wynagrodzenie-dla-personelu-medycznego-za-prace-w-jednym-miejscu,7721.html. [access online: 19.05.2020]