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Today in Austria: A roundup of the latest news on Friday

The Local Austria
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Today in Austria: A roundup of the latest news on Friday
Austria's healthcare at 'tipping point', centre-left party says (Photo by Natanael Melchor on Unsplash)

Austria's healthcare at 'tipping point', Raiffeisen Bank scraps controversial Russia deal, spot in Eurovision finale and more news from Austria on Friday.

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Austria's healthcare faces "tipping point" as elective doctors rise, warns opposition

Austria's healthcare system is at a crossroads, warns the Social Democratic Party (SPÖ).  A new report shows a significant increase in the number of elective doctors, particularly in dermatology (up from 58 percent to 71 percent elective) and urology (up from 55 percent to 62 percent elective) between 2017 and 2023.

This shift, according to the SPÖ, indicates a growing two-tier system in which accessible public healthcare is declining. "Our healthcare system is getting worse," said SPÖ chairman Philip Kucher. "The next election is a decision point. If the SPÖ wins, we will strengthen public healthcare again."

The SPÖ proposes a multi-pronged approach to address the crisis.  They advocate for fulfilling the government's promised "patient billion" investment, creating a nationwide doctor's contract, expanding service offerings, and standardising care.

To combat the doctor shortage, the SPÖ calls for doubling medical school placements, prioritising those who commit to public healthcare, and launching a comprehensive "care offensive."

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Austria's Raiffeisen Bank scraps controversial Russia deal

Austria's Raiffeisenbank said it was scrapping a deal to try to recover assets frozen in Russia involving Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, who is under Western sanctions.

The group—which remains the largest Western bank still operating in Russia—announced in December an agreement with Austrian construction company Strabag involving Deripaska.

The deal to try to recover assets frozen in Russia before selling or spinning off Raiffeisenbank Russia had drawn the scrutiny of US authorities.

"The bank has decided to walk away from the transaction out of caution," the bank said in a statement.

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Austria secures a spot in Eurovision finale

Austria's Eurovision hopeful, "We Will Rave" by Kaleen, defied expectations with a surprise qualification for the finals.

The song, a dance anthem reminiscent of the 90s, initially enjoyed high anticipation across Europe after its March release. However, its odds dipped during rehearsals, raising concerns.

But a surprise twist came with the staging. The performance's dark and unexpected visual presentation resonated with European viewers, securing enough votes to propel "We Will Rave" into the final round.

Despite Swedish songwriters crafting the Eurodance track, Austria's dark interpretation seems to have struck a chord, keeping the party spirit alive in the competition.

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Climate activists disrupt "Faust" performance at Vienna's Burgtheater

Climate activist group "Last Generation" staged a protest last night at Vienna's prestigious Burgtheater during a performance of Goethe's "Faust." 

The group shouted slogans, climbed onto the stage, and unfurled banners reading "Right to Survival," according to a press release from "Last Generation."

The disruption lasted about 45 minutes and received mixed reactions from the audience, an eyewitness reported to the free newspaper "Heute."  Police arrived at the scene, but the group eventually left the stage peacefully.

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