NEWS

Kaklamanis: Redirecting EU funds will boost the system

1. [New Democracy’s] health program aims at relieving crowding at hospitals through shifting all diagnosis and treatment, where possible, to primary healthcare. Our priority is to bolster rural clinics and set up urban clinics which will shoulder the main burden of primary healthcare together with the institution of general practitioners. 2. Under-the-table payments, apart from reflecting our societal behavior, is also the result of low pay for ESY staff. For this reason, New Democracy will: * Increase the minimum salary of doctors who work exclusively for ESY; * Establish a productivity bonus, targeting not only doctors but also other hospital staff; * Pay dividends from the increase in hospital income to workers involved in caring for privately insured patients (who will be the source of the extra hospital funds); * Strictly implement the law, which provides for sanctions against violators and which unfortunately is not imposed today. 3. The lack of hospital beds is the result of bad coordination of hospitals on a regional level and the shortcomings of the system for transferring patients. There can’t be half-empty hospitals and hospitals overflowing with patients in the same area at the same time. Patients being left on beds in corridors is partly the result of administrators’ organization when their hospital is on emergency standby, but is mostly due to the absence of primary healthcare. 4. What should be promoted is the provision of real, financial, scientific or educational incentives (e.g. through payment for seminar attendance) so that doctors want to be part of the necessary shift of manpower toward the regions. Our chief tool in drawing up this policy is the first (pilot) phase of ESELEI, the national system for free doctor choice, and what comes out of it. At the same time, there will be job announcements for vital specialists that will be based on an overall health services plan. 5. High private spending on health, apart from other reasons, is due to: * Citizens’ unequal access to health services. * Poor hospital stay facilities at state hospitals. * The poor quality (not in the medical sense) of proffered services, on the level of primary and secondary healthcare. New Democracy’s program for these three issues points to specific solutions, such as: * An integrated network of primary healthcare prevention and care facilities. * An improvement in hospital stay facilities (e.g. through providing wards with one to four beds in all hospitals and boosting staff numbers and training). * Keeping hospitals open all day, having new forms of administration and introducing integrated computer networks via the information society program. 6. Obviously, you’re referring to state funding for health because private spending (as a percentage of national expenditure) in Greece is one of the highest in the world. Public spending on health needs to be raised gradually, and targeted at specific services or infrastructure in Greece to prevent funds from being spent on irrelevant objectives and the squandering of public monies that we see today. The main tool for increasing funds for health will be redirecting Third Community Support Framework funding into health spending. Don’t forget that for every 3 euros offered by the EU for infrastructure improvement, Greece only has to produce 1 euro. At a time when we have so many opportunities which we could use, the program for health and welfare comes last with respect to absorption of EU funds (less than 10 percent). The other huge problem in health finance is the growth in the real deficits of hospital budgets. For this reason, we propose a series of measures (see the New Democracy program pp 39-42) on their reform. Finally, the creation of a central supplies committee, announced by Costas Karamanlis, is a necessary and sufficient condition for achieving the goals of proper financial administration of and transparency in ESY. I invite all those interested in studying our program for government in detail to visit the website http://www.nd.gr/ygeia.asp.