In Slovakia reform of hospitals’ reform still being discussed

PM Peter Pellegrini (leftist senor ruling party Smer-SD) is still considering in which way to carry out one of the biggest reforms of the health sector, the so-called stratification of hospitals, TASR reported. The stratification should have had the form of a constitutional law, which Smer-SD chairperson Robert Fico demanded from health minister Andrea Kalavska (a Smer-SD nominee) in June. According to the premier, the health minister will prepare several variants in the coming days. Pellegrini said that for him, the outcome was important, not the form, adding that he did not want the reform, which has been accepted even by experts, to be halted because someone is politicizing it. The prime minister stressed that the responsibility for what the government would decide about and what ultimately “will or won’t go to the parliament” rested with Kalavska and him, adding that Aug 21 was the decisive date when they would announce how they would cope with this issue.

Altogether 99 comments have been submitted over the bill on the hospital reform after an interdepartmental comment procedure, of which 43 essential. The health minister submitted the constitutional law on the quality, safety, local and temporal availability of health care on Jul 29. Kalavska’s proposed reform should split hospitals into three categories and determine what kinds of procedure will be carried out in them. Patients are always to be sent to facilities where they would be provided with healthcare on a sufficient level. Health insurance companies wouldn’t contract procedures that didn’t meet set criteria. The freed-up capacities, if there were any, would be used in favor of higher specialization in procedures that the given hospital performs well. However, the Slovak Medical Chamber SLK criticizes the project as ill-prepared for implementation at the moment as well as being motivated by political aspirations. SLK insists that every hospital must perform basic treatments in order to save human lives and that the minister’s plans to shift doctors from hospital to hospital and cobble together well-staffed departments, which would mean that some hospitals would be left without certain departments due to lack of staff, is not good. The chamber believes that the personnel shortage issue cannot and must not be addressed with ‘temporary internships’ for individuals from third countries.

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