NEWS

Chaos in the hospital supplies system

The National Health System (ESY) is being threatened by the system of hospital supplies, whereby huge sums of money are leaking away through procedures of dubious legality. The Ministry of Health’s attempt to curb illegal orders with a recent law seems to have done little good, as hospitals were often «forced» to violate the regulation in 2002. The result is a backlog of hospital debts that cannot be settled and a situation in which the health system is hostage to the suppliers. This is not a new phenomenon. In the summer of 2001, the issue of settling debts accrued through illegal contracts was resolved by means of law 2955/2001, according to which all illegal contracts were to be made legal and then paid. However, the regulation contained one restrictive clause: the specific contracts would have to expire by the end of 2001. The brief period allowed between the time when the law came into effect and the deadline resulted – in many cases – in direct orders. Forty New Democracy (ND) opposition party deputies tabled a question on this same issue three weeks ago in Parliament. ND deputy for Pieria Georgios Constantopoulos, in an interview with Kathimerini, accused the Health Ministry of mismanagement and corruption, and, in reference to the supply system, spoke of a premeditated «bleeding dry» of the healthcare system that the ministry is unable to control. However, according to statements made to Kathimerini by Deputy Health Minister Elpida Tsouri, the situation is on the mend. She also notes that strict guidelines have been given to the presidents of regional councils (PESY) and to hospital administrators regarding supply tenders – a procedure by which the general efficiency of the suppliers can be judged. The ministry’s directive on direct orders for supplies of «non-comparable» specialized materials is currently being examined by the European Commission. This was a result of a question tabled by Euro MP Christos Folias, and it is possible that it will lead to Greece being hauled before the European Court.