OZZL – OGÓLNOPOLSKI ZWIĄZEK ZAWODOWY LEKARZY – ZARZĄD KRAJOWY
DTUP – DOCTORS’ TRADE UNION OF POLAND – NATIONAL BOARD
- Gdanska 27, 85-005 BYDGOSZCZ, Poland
OZZL was established on June 1, 1991. It is the first strictly doctors’ trade union in Poland after World War II. Joining our organization is not obligatory. Most of our members are full-time and part-time salaried doctors, mainly with public employers. There are also self-employed. We are open to doctors of various specialties, with various years of service. Krzysztof Bukiel, who has been the chairman of the management board for 31 years since the organization was founded, has now been replaced by the new chairman of the management board, Grazyna Cebula-Kubat.
Overall we now have about 14,000 members. In our program, we support the introduction of the free market to health care wherever it is possible. We demand the creation of a rational, free-market and competitive healthcare system in Poland. This is our primary task. At the same time, as a trade union, we fight against violations of the labor law by employers in hospitals and other health care facilities where doctors (our members) are employed. We provide legal assistance to our members if necessary.
On a national scale, our organization participates in conferences and meetings with representatives of the Polish government, parliament and other institutions and organizations, expressing our opinions on the health care system, the situation of doctors, problems in the field of labor law and demanding improvement of the most important matters. We cooperate with the Polish Medical and Dental Chamber as well as with many other trade unions and organizations active in the field of health care.
But not only. In special cases, we send our open letters or protests to deputies and other official institutions with thousands of signatures. We organize various types of nationwide protests, with the participation of thousands of doctors. In 1996, we organized the first Polish demonstration of doctors in Warsaw, and then, in cooperation with the Polish Medical and Dental Chamber, we repeated it twice. 15,000 doctors participated in each of the two demonstrations. We also take part in demonstrations organized by other unions.
We do not agree with the terrible health care system in Poland, we criticize the wrong direction of its reform, we demand more money in this system, we protest against drastically low salaries of doctors leading them to a low and poor standard of living and frustration at work. Poor working conditions force doctors to constantly play with danger and cause overwork, which worsens patient care. Patients still have very difficult access to medical services and are forced to wait in long lines.
We also participate in many nationwide discussions aimed at building a better healthcare system in Poland. We have our own large and comprehensive reform project, leading to the creation of a rational system, operating on the principles of competition and free market. We try to propagate it wherever we can. A profound reform of the health care system in Poland is necessary because its effectiveness is now completely ruined.
Our success is to force the Polish government to introduce the European Directive 2003-88/EC (on working time) into national law, which happened in autumn 2007. Despite this, due to low wages, many people decided to emigrate to the countries of the old EU.
The largest physician demonstrations, organized by the OZZL, mainly in Warsaw, took place in 1996, 1997, 2006 and 2016. On September 11, 2021, the OZZL participated in the Great Medics’ Protest in Warsaw with the participation of 30,000 employees. After this demonstration, we started to co-organize the so-called „White Town 2.0”. In all of these actions, apart from the salary demands, the doctors demanded the introduction of a rational health care system. In 2020, we established the Crisis Team to provide legal assistance to doctors in conflicts with the employer arising from the change in the mode of providing medical services due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
OZZL is a member of the FEMS – Federation Europeenne Des Medecins Salaries (European Federation Of Salaried Doctors). The General Assembly of the FEMS which was held in Ischia on May 27-28, 2005, unanimously approved the OZZL (Doctors’ Trade Union of Poland – D.T.U.P) as an observer member. During the next G.A. we was recognized as a regular member.
A permanent representatives of OZZL in FEMS are Ryszard Kijak and Natalia Sot-Muszynska. In the 2009-2012 term, Kijak was a member of the FEMS board as Deputy Secretary General. He was the organizer of FEMS plenary assemblies twice – in Warsaw in 2008 and in Krakow in 2015. In 2008, the FEMS chairman Claude Wetzel attended the 10th National Congress of OZZL Delegates.
On December 15, 2008, a delegation of over a hundred OZZL representatives took part in a FEMS-inspired demonstration by representatives of doctors from all European Union countries in front of the European Parliament building in Strasbourg. The purpose of the demonstration was to oppose some of the planned changes to the content of the EU Working Time Directive. The protest was successful: the European Parliament adopted the solutions demanded by the doctors, thus taking a position opposite to that of the governments of states (the Council of Europe).
On May 15, 2014, FEMS organized Action Day in many countries: European Physicians Protest Day, with demands to guarantee satisfactory financing of high-quality healthcare for all European citizens, stop corruption, end the repression of doctors in some countries and ensure decent wages and decent working conditions for all European doctors. On that day, FEMS delegates from the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary came to Warsaw, who, together with members of the OZZL, took part in a picket in front of the buildings of the Ministry of Health. We hope that by working together, the activity of doctors will be stronger both in Europe and in Poland in achieving our goals.
On June 24, 2021, OZZL was admitted to the membership organizations of the Forum Zwiazkow Zawodowych, FZZ (Trade Union Forum), one of the three largest trade union headquarters in Poland.
Recently, in 2023, we took action against the content of the government’s bill on quality in health care and patient safety, which contains bad and unfavourable regulations and mechanisms. We alleged that the project is inconsistent with the Recommendations of the Council of Europe on the management of patient safety and the prevention of adverse events in healthcare, adopted by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. The law was relaxed.
In July 2023, we protested against illegally introduced limits on the number of prescriptions that can be issued by doctors, limiting patients’ rights and creating a risk of lack of access to medicines in emergency cases. In September, we organized a demonstration of over a thousand doctors in front of the buildings of the Ministry of Health in Warsaw under the slogan „Doctors’ protest – in protecting patients’ health”. There were protests against the degradation of the quality of medical education, excessive bureaucratic requirements, work overload, and underfinancing of the system, which differs significantly from European standards, manifested by ever-longing queues to specialists and hospitals, and many other pathologies.
In addition to protests and interventions, OZZL plays an opinion-forming role, making doctors aware of their rights and their special position in the health care system. Thanks to OZZL, doctors in Poland regained their dignity and better remuneration.