Health sector to undergo therapy

Health Minister Andreas Loverdos on Tuesday set out the priorities for a radical rehaul of the debt-crippled state health sector which is to come under the scrutiny of an 11-member committee of experts for the next five months to ensure that deep-rooted problems are eradicated.

?In six months we have to do everything that has not been done in years, and we have to do it well,? Loverdos told a press conference. These priorities – which will be outlined in a draft bill due to be tabled in Parliament on January 26 – include the modernization of a costly hospital procurement process, the merging of state hospitals with clinics run by social security funds, the computerization of the accounting departments, warehouses and pharmaceutical dispensaries of all state hospitals, the repricing of all medical services and the assessment of state hospitals.

Another, more long-term, aim is to merge the management and operation of certain state hospitals as a way of curbing wasteful spending.

The role of the committee of experts, to be coordinated by Elias Mossialos, an eminent professor in the Department of Social Policy at the London School of Economics, is to oversee the policies implemented by the government and to propose additional measures with the aim of boosting the efficiency of the state health sector.

The committee will also have the authority to propose changes to the memorandum – the agreement signed in May between Greece and its international creditors – if it deems that amendments are necessary and to make proposals on ways to raise funding, collect outstanding debts and better manage the finances of social security funds.

According to sources, the committee is to work closely with the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund – which have pledged Greece a total of 110 billion euros in loans – on compiling an assessment of the impact of the measures being implemented in the health sector.

The report, to be completed in May, will also set out the medium-term goals for the state sector, chiefly the reduction of spending on health to under 6 percent of gross domestic product.