Up to 2,000 doctors have pledged to attend the demonstration which is due to start at 4pm outside Vienna’s Medical University (MedUni). From 4:30pm the demo will make its way down Alserstrasse and Landesgerichtsstrasse to gather for a final rally at Maria-Theresien-Platz at 6pm, between the Natural History and Kunsthistorischen museums.
Motoring organizations have warned that there could be long traffic delays into Monday evening and have advised drivers to leave at least half an hour extra if travelling through the centre of the city.
Doctors have constructed a “medical village” on the Maria-Theresien-Platz where visitors can stop to get their blood pressure tested. They will also stress that under the new terms and conditions patients can no longer expect the high quality care and attention that doctors currently provide at hospitals in Vienna.
Vienna Health Councillor Sonja Wehsely (SPÖ) has criticized the demonstration, saying that doctors are taking issue with the general situation of the Austrian health system and not just the outcome of negotiations with the hospital association – and that this is confusing for patients. “The main objective seems to be to create an uproar,” she said.
But Thomas Szekeres, president of the Vienna Medical Association, said that it was important to point out that the health system was suffering and that waiting times at outpatient clinics and surgeries were too long, with hospitals struggling to cope with patient numbers.
He said that planned reductions in staff numbers and working hours would not help the situation, and that young doctors were increasingly looking for work abroad.
Doctors are demanding changes to their pay and conditions, including better pay for weekend night shift work.