ECONOMY

Hospitals start to tighten belts

Hospitals’ debts to their suppliers have soared by 1.2 billion euros since the start of the year, official Health Ministry figures have shown. Monthly spending on pharmaceuticals and related products came to 179.4 million euros in the January-June period, a reduction of 17.3 percent from the same period in 2009 and 6 percent from 2007. Only a small amount of this money has been paid. In this context, the ministry has issued clear directions to hospital administrators for the systematic recording of money owed to all healthcare facilities by social security funds, which amounts to some 80 percent of expenses. It also asked for debts covering insured members to be quickly paid by social security funds, as well as the biggest possible reduction of public hospitals’ deficits for 2010. In the meeting that Health and Social Solidarity General Secretary Nikos Polyzos had yesterday with the representatives of the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund regarding the analysis of the health sector’s finances, he repeated the commitment made by the ministry that «the deficit of public hospitals will not be allowed to reach the levels of previous years again.» Health Ministry estimates put this year’s expected deficit at 400 million euros, from 1 billion last year.