Strike warning: Why are doctors planning a protest in Vienna?

Amanda Previdelli
Amanda Previdelli - [email protected]
Strike warning: Why are doctors planning a protest in Vienna?
Austria is experiencing a shortage of nurses and doctors. Photo by Luis Melendez on Unsplash

Vienna hospital doctors are taking the streets in protest - in a move that many called a 'dress rehearsal' for a possible strike. Why are doctors protesting?


Hospital doctors in Vienna and representatives of other healthcare professions, such as nurses, have planned a protest march in the city centre this Monday, December 4th. 

With the motto "Without us, Vienna dies" (Ohne uns stirbt Wien), the health professionals want to call attention to their "deteriorating working conditions", according to a press release by the doctor's chamber Ärztekammer für Wien. The protest is seen as "dress rehearsal" for a possible strike in spring, Austrian media has reported.

"The staffing and structural understaffing of Vienna's public hospitals is no longer sustainable. While entire departments are disappearing and staff are leaving in frustration, city politicians have consistently ignored our proposals from the 10-point plan to save Vienna's hospitals for months.", they wrote.

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The proposals include measures to make health professions more attractive, stop workers from leaving the sector altogether, improve working conditions in the Viennese hospitals, and modernise structures so doctors and nurses can have more time for patients.

The medical association also demands a 30 percent pay rise, saying that the recently presented agreements just below the ten percent mark only compensate for inflation. 

They added: "It is not enough to create new posts that are then vacant in addition to the existing ones. What we need are people who are happy to work with us in the hospitals of the City of Vienna. We need a wave of de-bureaucratization, more autonomy and department level to find suitable solutions for and with our colleagues."

The protest rally will start in the early afternoon at Neuer Markt. It will then continue through the city centre and past the town hall. A final rally is planned at Stock-Im-Eisen-Platz at around 4.00 pm.


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Population support

The medical association said there is support among the population for the protests, citing a "Health Barometer 2023" research presented by pollster Peter Hajek.

In the survey involving 1,000 residents of Vienna, participants criticised the healthcare system and healthcare policies. A significant majority, 63 percent, felt that healthcare hadn't improved post-pandemic. Regarding Vienna's hospitals, 37 percent rated their condition as "Not sufficient" or "Sufficient," with a mere 5 percent indicating a "Very good" status.

Critiques highlighted concerns about prolonged surgery waiting times and overcrowded hospital outpatient departments.

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The survey revealed that an overwhelming majority believed that increased salaries for hospital staff would be justified. Additionally, there is significant support for potential strike actions, with 91 percent expressing understanding for such measures, as confirmed by Hajek.


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