Minister calls for less waste in health

Health Minister Andreas Lykourentzos on Wednesday warned that unless waste in healthcare is brought under control, ?we will be forced to adopt measures we do not want to adopt.?

He was speaking to Parliament?s Social Affairs Committee, where talks focused on an ongoing deadlock between the government and pharmacists and doctors over unpaid arrears from the country?s largest healthcare fund, the National Organization for Healthcare Provision (EOPYY).

Lykourenztos said that given its present performance, EOPYY will end the year with a gaping hole in its budget, while state spending on medicines will overshoot a 2.8-billion-euro target. He conceded that the recession has also contributed to losses in revenue for EOPPY, which is estimated to see intakes of 4.63 billion euros by the end of this year and expenditures of 6.5 billion euros, with an additional 1.3 billion euros coming in from state subsidies.

?I am afraid that by the end of the year the deficit will reach 1.5 billion euros,? Lykourentzos said.

However, he stressed that the Health Ministry expects the ailing fund, and others in a similar predicament, to do more to curb overspending on excessive consumption and prescribing of medicines, saying that over 4.7 million prescriptions were written by EOPYY doctors in June alone.

?Overmedication, overprescription and other such extremes… turn expense into waste… forcing us to adopt measures that we do not want to adopt,? Lykourentzos told the committee.

In a separate matter, the health minister suggested that the Dunant Hospital, a semi-private facility built by the Hellenic Red Cross that operates with state backing and has been experiencing serious shortfalls over the past few years, should either be shut down or put up for sale.

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