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Minister says that government money paid to private hospitals for certain services will be re-allocated for use in the state health sector in future.
Private hospitals in Romania face cuts in government funding as part of a redistribution of Health Ministry finances.
“Our aim is to offer good services for all people in Romania, including those who are too poor to pay for expensive services. That’s why we are considering cutting public funds for private hospitals and redistributing the money to public ones,” the Health Minister, Eugen Nicolaescu, said.
“Private hospitals are businesses and they have to be managed as such,” the minister added.
The Health Ministry, through the National Health Insurance House, every year pays some 45 million euro for services supplied by private hospitals.
These 45 million euro are now to be re-allocated to intensive care programs, and to trauma, heart failure and stroke care services, which are currently not supplied by private hospitals, Nicolaescu said.
Furthermore, as part of a larger reform programme, the Ministry aims to switch the focus of treatment from hospitals to intensive prevention practices.
Private hospitals have not welcomed the planned move.
“The loss of state funding will affect not only patients, who will have to pay more for the services they get, but also our plans to improve the quality of our services,” Fady Chreyh, the manager of a private hospital, said.
“We estimate that our tarrifs will increase by around 10 per cent if the Health Minister's plan is enforced,” he added.
Healthcare expenditure in Romania consumes around 6 per cent of GDP, almost half the EU average. Spending per citizen amounted to 700 euro in 2010, while wealthy Luxembourg, The Netherlands and Austria, spent close to 4,000 euro per capita.
Romania has been struggling to reform its public health sector, which has fallen into growing problems as a result of years of underinvestment. Hospitals are understaffed and are short of specialists and modern equipment.
Low pay in the health sector and the government’s apparent unwillingness to carry out changes are blamed for an exodus of doctors and nurses.
The average salary of a junior doctor in Romania is around 300 euro a month. A similarly qualified doctor working in Britain, for example, can expect to earn many times that figure.
Polls show that over 90 per cent of Romanians are unhappy with the services provided by the public health system.
Many blame problems in the system on inefficient management, while 42 per cent believe that insufficient financing is to blame.
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