November 3, 2015 / 2:58 PM / 3 years ago

Italy's doctors to strike against cuts to health service

ROME, Nov 3 (Reuters) - Italy’s doctors will hold a one-day national strike next month against curbs on spending included in the government’s 2016 budget, various doctors’ unions announced on Tuesday.

Seventeen unions representing family doctors, surgeons and health service administrators said the strike planned for Dec. 16 was in protest against policies whose “only objective is savings” and which are damaging the quality of health care.

The budget, which cuts taxes while aiming to keep the budget deficit inside European Union limits, reduces the 2016 health budget previously agreed with regional governments and administrators by more than 2 billion euros ($2.19 billion).

Prime Minister Matteo Renzi says that nonetheless health spending will still increase by around 1 billion euros compared with this year, but doctors say this is insufficient to cover the growing needs of the national health service.

They also warn that cuts to the overall budgets of regional governments will lead to further reductions in health spending, the biggest item on the budget of the regions.

Italian public spending on health amounts to around 7 percent of national output, below its main European peers Germany, France and Britain, according to national statistics bureau ISTAT. ($1 = 0.9127 euros) (Reporting By Gavin Jones; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)

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