The government of Austria proposed more than 20 steps to improve the work environment for professionals in the care sector.

Minister Of health Johannes Rauch and the representatives of Austria’s People’s Party (OVP) and Green Party (Grüne) introduced the next steps in healthcare reform on Thursday (12 May). Despite the fact that the pandemic has exacerbated vulnerable working conditions, the measures are aimed at making the sector more appealing to workers.

According to Rauch, this is “a significant day for healthcare in Austria” as “every recruited care worker will receive more pay. A significant portion of the funds will be used to provide employees with an extra salary bonus, which will be limited to 2 years at first and will cost €520 million in 2022-23. Nursing staff belonging to the age group 43 and up will be given one week off, as well as an additional two hours after the night shifts.

Foreign education will be “de-bureaucratized,” and work visas for immigrant practitioners will be made simpler to obtain. Caritas, for example, regarded the measures as the “first milestone.” Liberal healthcare spokesperson Fiona Fiedler contends that money alone would not solve structural problems, whereas right-wing disability spokesman Christian Ragger believed the budget was insufficient.

The Austrian Health and Nursing Association (GKV) criticised the initiatives as well, claiming that although some of their requirements were met, critical steps remained unfinished. The reform, according to GKV, provides almost no benefits to highly skilled health workers and nurses and is yet another step toward “de-professionalisation.”

According to Green National Council Council member Sigrid Maurer, the package is to be implemented in stages, with the very first measures expected to be approved by the National Council before the summer.

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