While the COVID-19 pandemic was still in the early stages, the Prime Minister Rama vowed that all doctors and nurses working on the frontline against the novel virus would receive a bonus in the amount of EUR 1000 ‘until the situation would be over’. Other medical staff members, cleaners and ambulance drivers working on the frontline, would receive a bonus in the amount of EUR 500. What is the situation nearly 6 months after the Prime Minister’s statement?
“Faktoje” tried to reach Prime Minister Rama’s Office, reminding him of the promise he had made and inquiring whether the promised bonus had been given to the workers based on category and period stated by him in the Government meeting in March.
The Prime Minister’s Office did not reply to any of the questions in the request for information, instead it passed the questions on to the Ministry of Health and Social Protection, which has yet to respond as of the publication of this article.
However, “Faktoje”, in line with its work practice, had already submitted a detailed request for information to the same Ministry. We have yet to receive a reply as regards this request, although the legal deadline has been exceeded.
The request submitted to the Ministry of Health and Social Protection:
The next step was to communicate with the COVID-19 Experts Committee members, Pëllumb Pipero and Skënder Brataj, who were asked whether they were aware of any medical staff that had not received the bonus. Pëllumb Pipero was the only one to reply, stating briefly that he believed that everyone had received the bonus, leaving it at that.
Through a report made to “Faktoje”, we came to know that the prehospital emergency care doctors at “Shefqet Ndroqi” sanatorium, one of the hospitals bearing the majority of the treatment burden of those seriously affected by Covid-19, have not received the promised bonus since May. Currently, 15 nurses, 12 doctors and 15 drivers work at this hospital. Doctors, nurses and drivers at this hospital, who wish to remain anonymous, stated that the bonus received in May was half of the declared amount, whereas in June and July they did not receive the bonus, despite the worsening of the Covid-19 situation in the last two months due to the increasing number of cases.
“We requested a meeting with the hospital director, during which he said that he would request a legal interpretation for this issue, but we received no reply. We have been working and continue to work on the frontline against COVID-19, which has resulted in 5 infected cases from our medical staff: two doctors, two nurses and one driver, who passed away”, N.C, M.D., told “Faktoje”.
They have submitted a complaint to the Ministry of Health and Prime Minister Rama, but there has been no reply.
The hospital director explained to the staff that the bonus reduction and then its ceasing was pursuant to the Ministry of Health and Social Protection Decision. According to said document, the bonus is granted based on “engagement days” and “Shefqet Ndroqi” hospital operated as a Covid-19 hospital until 18 May.
However, pursuant to DCM dated 10.3.2020, Prime Minister Rama established the bonus as a fixed payment. Based on this decision, “Shefqet Ndroqi” drivers reported that they have continued to work as usual after 18 May as they transported patients to the Infectious Diseases Service. Furthermore, they stated that the hospital was reopened as a Covid-19 hospital at the beginning of July, a month during which the number of infection cases exceeded the peak pandemic figures of March 2020.
The medical staff at “Shefqet Ndroqi” hospital submitted another complaint to Minister Ogerta Manastirliu and Prime Minister Edi Rama, one month after the first complaint, but they have yet to receive a reply.
As a result of the lack of reply by Governmental institutions, the medical staff addressed a letter to the Ombudsperson, wherein they expressed their concern regarding the bonus they are entitled to.
The reply issued by the Ministry of Health to the Ombudsperson provides nearly the same argument, focusing on the decision issued by the Ministry, wherein it is set forth that the bonus is granted based on “engagement days”.
Since July, “Shefqet Ndroqi” hospital, specialized to treat lung diseases, has been operating as the Covid-2 hospital to treat the increased number of those infected and exhibiting complications due to Coronavirus. Based on the statement of Prime Minister Rama and the data available to “Faktoje”, we decided to rate this statement as a Half-Truth.